SRACC welcomes guest speakers to monthly meeting

Wednesday, June 5, 2019
Pictured is Gilbert Losurdo, guest speaker from the North Arkansas East/West Corridor Association, speaking at the SRACC meeting.
Lauren Siebert

The Spring River Area Chamber of Commerce held their general meeting at Baros Mongolian Grill in Hardy May 21.

The meeting opened with a welcome from chamber president, Ethan Barnes and the introduction of new members.

Sandra Farnham, president elect for the Arts Center of North Arkansas (ACNA) and secretary for the Friends of the NRA, took a few moments to introduce herself.

Barnes then provided information about upcoming events such as seminars to be held at the Spring River Innovation Hub in Cherokee Village and the upcoming CREATE BRIDGES meeting slated for June 6 at 11:30 a.m. at Ozarka College in Ash Flat.

Marc Herring gave an update and positive report about the recently held Arkansas Pie Festival.

“This was a really great event and put us on the map here in the state. The hub is moving forward and we appreciate the assistance and contributions from the chamber, local businesses and everyone who really supported the hub,” Herring said. “Over the course of the next couple years, it’s really going to take on a dynamic position in our community and bring in creativity, business incubation and more.”

Fred Holzhauer provided an update on the 29th annual Spring River Open golf tournament. Thanks to sponsors and participants, a little over $4,000 was raised and will be split between the chamber and Quad Cities Rotary Club to be used to help further their efforts to help grow the Spring River area.

“We are going to evaluate what works and doesn’t and revamp this event for next year and make it bigger and better,” Holzhauer said.

This month’s meeting featured two speakers, Gilbert N. Losurdo, managing director for the North Arkansas East/West Corridor Association out of Clarkridge.

Losurdo’s presentation was in regards to the 412 corridor project and how his association was working to help secure funding for the project.

“The North Arkansas East/West Corridor Association is a 501(c)(3) corporation. We started in 2017 as a result of some of us businessmen trying to get some economic development in the north central part of Arkansas. We were finding is that it was extremely difficult to talk to corporations coming down to this area and bringing their factories and workers down here. Primarily because they said the roads were not what they should be,” Losurdo said.

He explained in 1987, the federal government authorized US Hwy. 412 as a high priority corridor and it allowed for special recognition for theoretically funding the highways.

“Sometime during the late 80’s and early 90’s a lot of work was done on the east and west side and there were some bypasses but now on the east side, most of that development has gone...it’s mostly in Harrison. We formed a group and our mission statement is to help improve US Hwy. 412. We’re not expecting a four lane super highway,” Losurdo said. “I want to make it very clear though that this project is an economic development project. Fundamentally, it accesses the need for the development for the north central portion of Arkansas. Without that, these areas across the corridor will decline in economic importance. We’re seeing a decline in some areas already and we’re trying to stop that. We’re trying to encourage new development in those areas and by improving the highway we think businesses will be able to come in.”

He then provided examples of companies who had interest in adding a location in northern Arkansas, but knew it would not be feasible to get their goods transported in and out without expansion of the corridor.

Losurdo encouraged those in attendance at the meeting to reach out to their legislators on a state and national level to work to dedicate funding to the project.

Chuck Baker and Doris Finley with Legal Shield were the next to speak.

“As a member of the chamber, Chuck is joining forces with me and we want to work with small business owners across the state and we educate them on ways to grow their business and the little things that happen every day we let slide because we don’t have a budget for it,” Finley said. “It could be anything from an issue with an employee or an issue an employee created with a client. The program is here and there are so many things we may not be aware of such as changes in the laws, we offer this as a service.”

Finley said hot checks were one of the most popular issues the company helped businesses to overcome.

Finley and Baker gave a brief presentation on the various services which were available to small business owners.

Following their presentation, the meeting was adjourned.

The Spring River Area Chamber of Commerce meets the third Tuesday of each month with a location to be announced.

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