The Spring River Chamber of Commerce met at Deep Creek Catfish for their monthly meeting April 20. The guest speaker for the event was Cary Tyson, Director of the Main Street Arkansas' Historic Preservation Program in Little Rock.
Tyson spoke to the crowd on the role historic districts play in the local economy. He told of the many advantages to business owners by establishing their businesses in historic districts rather than traditional strip mall type establishments. Tyson said creating business in historic districts is not only more economical, but also more sustainable and helps with downtown revitalization. Tyson stressed the importance of how downtown areas are treated respect to economic development options. He said both historic and heritage aspects of historic downtown areas tie into economic development of an entire area.
The growth helps dying areas. He told the crowd the four most important things that matter today are innovation, human capital, education and infrastructures, all of these play into economic development. Tyson said there is McDonalds, and other chains "any place." He said by revitalizing downtown historic districts, "The goal is not to make them anyplace, but we want them to be someplace," implying a location that stood out from chains and franchises, with both unique and interesting things to attract both consumers and new business to an area.
Tyson encouraged members of the Chamber to get involved with Main Street Hardy. He said the Main Street Arkansas Program utilizes what he calls a DOPE formula ... Design, Other ways and means, Promotion and Economic Development, through both recruitment and retention.
Main Street Hardy board member Donna Cruse said the Main Street Hardy organization is in the process of doing branding as Batesville's Main Street program is currently participating in to promote their historic downtown district. Cruse said the organization is in the process of reorganizing Main Street Hardy and electing a new board. She said after the board is in place, they will then elect a new director. She said this process is through an application, and said it will be winding down by the end of April. She welcomes applications for anyone interested in working with the organization in various aspects of the program.
Cruse also showed the group the new county wide map that was created by the Spring River Chamber of Commerce for locals. She said they would be available soon.
Chamber president Beth McEntire-Bess announced the success the chamber had from the circus. Guests for the meeting were Steve and Barbara Summer from the Ash Flat Church of Christ. Bess also announced that the Chamber membership for the year was currently 86.
In other announcements, Bess announced that Spring River Chamber of Commerce will partner with the Rotary Club in one of the largest golf tournaments in the area. The tournament will be held May 22-23. A car will be given away for a hole in one.
Nelson Gatewood announced the Navy Band from Millington, Tennessee will perform at the Veteran' Memorial in Ash Flat from 1-3 on May 15.
Numerous political candidates also visited with visitors and members of the chamber prior to and after the meeting.
The Spring River Chamber of Commerce meets monthly at an area restaurant on a rotation type schedule. May's meeting will be held at Fredrick's in Highland on May 18. The guest speaker will be Ashley Hall, a non traditional student in the nursing program at Ozarka. Hall will speak the journey from being looked over in high school because no one in her family had been to college. Many who have heard Hall speak said she is very inspirational.
The Spring River Area Chamber of Commerce also invites winners of any club and organizational scholarships to attend the meeting and be further recognized for their academic successes. The chamber will also present their scholarship during the meeting.
The public is invited to attend the monthly meetings held the third Tuesday at noon. Locations are publicized both on the radio and newspaper prior to the meeting.