Workforce & Economic Development

October 2023

Chamber Connections

Manufacturing Week

Every year, we host events & activities for an entire week - all leading up to celebrate National Manufacturing Day, held on the First Friday of October. Manufacturing is so important to our Region and this year was full of opportunities for our Members to participate in tours & educational sessions. The week concluded with the "First Friday Breakfast" and a message from Arkansas Chief Workforce Officer, Mike Rogers. Thank you to all our sponsors for making this week amazing!

Annual Meeting

On October 12, the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce held our Annual Meeting. We hosted over 750 guests to discuss, reminisce, and celebrate the year that has passed. The program included a keynote from United States Senator John Boozman. We also highlighted accomplishments important to our Chamber members, including economic development, milestones, and awards.

Congratulations to Dr. Larry Price for being awarded Physician of the Year, to Monica McCollum on her accomplishment of earning Ambassador of the Year, and to our very own Tim Allen for being the 2023 Jack White Community Leadership Award recipient.

Workforce & Economic Development

Over the past 12 months, the Fort Smith area has experienced significant growth.  

Over 315 commercial building permits have been filed since January through mid-September with a value of $480 Million. Just for reference, this region invested only $154 Million in 2012.

The Peak Innovation Center is in its second year. Peak is a state-of-the-art K-12 career technical educational center. Eleventh grade students from across the region are taking concurrent credit courses that offer hands on training directly related to the career that they wish to pursue. Upon graduation, these students will have the skills needed to immediately enter the workforce or springboard them to UAFS so that they can further their education.

The Fort Smith Regional Chamber partnered with Be Pro Be Proud Arkansas and the Arkansas State Chamber in hosting the 2023 Arkansas River Valley Draft Day back in March at Peak. Draft Day is a two-day hiring event that matches employers with regional high school seniors based on student career interest and employer needs. Almost three hundred seniors participated in employer interviews and a career expo.

The Arkansas River Valley Draft Day success is measured by seeing high school seniors secure great job offers for after graduation. We look forward to seeing more offers extended next March. Following Draft Day, the seniors and employers were recognized at the annual “Signing Day” event held at the EXPO’s First Friday Breakfast. As a reminder, the Fort Smith Chamber was the first in the state to celebrate graduates and the companies with a “Signing Day “ event 6 years ago!

This is just the beginning. More and more people are moving to Fort Smith and our students are now recognizing that a great career can be had right in their own backyard.   

Junior Leadership & Career Academy – Advanced Manufacturing and Technology Session

Earlier this month, the Junior Leadership & Career Academy (JLCA) Class stepped into the world of Advanced Manufacturing and Technology. Thank you to Owens Corning for sponsoring this day!

The students had the opportunity to take tours at ABB, Rheem, and ArcBest, gaining firsthand insights into cutting-edge manufacturing processes and innovative technologies. After the tours, participants heard from Owens Corning and Keathley-Patterson, learning about their roles and the diverse career opportunities within their fields. The day wrapped up with a fun activity, identifying items that are made right here in the River Valley!

Thank you to all the sponsors, volunteers, and speakers who made this day possible. Together, we're inspiring the next generation of innovators and creators! Stay tuned for more exciting updates from JLCA Class.

Interested in learning more about JLCA? Email Hannah at

Leadership Fort Smith—Higher Education & Workforce Development Session

This month, Leadership Fort Smith explored higher education and workforce development in our community, sponsored by Mars Petcare!

The class toured the Peak Innovation Center, where they witnessed cutting-edge technology and creativity coming together to shape the future of education. Then they toured the beautiful University of Arkansas - Fort Smith campus and got to eat lunch in the Lion’s Den! Seeing the incredible resources available to our students right here in Fort Smith was inspiring!

Participants also had the privilege of hearing from speakers at UAFS, Arkansas Tech University - Ozark Campus, and the Fort Smith Adult Education Center. Their passion for education highlighted the importance of investing in our workforce, empowering individuals, and building a brighter future for everyone in our community.

A huge thank you to the speakers and sponsors for making this eye-opening experience possible.

If you are interested in supporting the LFS program,

email Hannah at

More from the Chamber

October Ribbon Cuttings, Groundbreakings, & Celebrations

Keith Hurst State Farm

Cornerstone Caregiving

Medicare Specialist of Arkansas

Kids Unlimited

Methodist Village

Lawrence, Schluterman & Schwartz

Attention Western Arkansas and Eastern Oklahoma Employers!

You can post your open jobs directly to Career Ready Fort Smith to get those career opportunities in front of jobseekers immediately. Career Ready Fort Smith is a valuable resource for individuals looking for positions in Sebastian, Crawford, and Franklin County, AR, as well as Le Flore and Sequoyah County, OK.

Use this link to go to Career Ready Fort Smith and register today! 

Click Here to Register!

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Fort Smith Regional

Chamber of Commerce

612 Garrison Avenue

Fort Smith, AR 72301

(479) 783 - 3111

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