Camp Siloam hosted the 2022 Chamber of Commerce banquet on Thursday.
The theme for the 92nd Annual Banquet was “No Place Like Home”.
Several prizes were awarded: the Pioneer Citizen Award, the OCLE (Outstanding Civic Leadership Event) awards, the Businesses of the Year awards, the Moose Van Poucke Volunteer of the Year award and the Jerry Cavness Non-Profit of the Year award as well as the presentation of the new president of the board of directors of the chamber.
The event began with a welcome from new president Cammi Hevener and an invocation by Pastor Tim Estes of New Life Church. Master of Ceremonies Randy Torres made the introductions and presented most of the awards.
State Farm owner Jordan Smithson congratulated the chamber ambassadors and presented Kamaron Rackleff of Moss Insurance with the Volunteer of the Year award. Smithson also presented the 2022 Diamond Business Member to the Northwest Technical Institute.
Torres then presented the Business of the Year awards.
This year, the Small Business of the Year was Creative Corner, the Medium Business was Moss Insurance and the Large Business was Alternative Design.
Torres also presented the Nonprofit of the Year award to Ability Tree. After the awards, former Chairman of the Board Jimmy Allen introduced Hevener as the new Chairman of the Board.
Hevener spoke about his love for Siloam Springs and the importance of local shopping and his parents and second family at Ward Jones Realtors.
She also spoke about growing up with notable Siloam Springs residents, Todd Simmons, CEO of Simmons Foods; Kurt Price, a lender for Arvest Bank; Ricky Clark, whose family owned the bowling alley; and Rex Blisard, owner of King Pins Bowling Alley.
“My heart will always be in Siloam Springs,” Hevener said. “Home is where the heart is and there’s no place like home in Siloam Springs.”
The OCLE Awards were then presented to sisters Audra Farrell and Lucinda Jenks. They were originally scheduled to perform at the OCLE banquet in September, but the banquet was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
They were introduced by Hank Jenks, husband of Lucinda Jenks. Lucinda Jenks did the majority of the talk, talking about her life. Lucinda Jenks and Farrell talked about their families and their love for Siloam Springs.
Farrell emailed a statement the next morning saying she felt grateful for the wonderful honor and was also honored to share this with her sister.
“I thank our parents and grandparents for instilling the importance of getting involved, getting involved and giving back to our Siloam Springs community,” Farrell said in his statement. “I also want to thank La-Z-Boy for trusting me for 13 great years, giving me the opportunity to serve employees and the opportunity to serve my community as an instrument where I could have a positive impact.”
Farrell concluded by saying that there is no place like home.
Jenks also emailed the next day saying she was grateful and honored to receive the award along with her sister.
“To get this together is a real honor,” Jenks said in his statement. “Our family heritage in this town runs deep and we love to call Siloam Springs our hometown.”
Jenks also thanked her employers for believing in her and allowing her to serve the community over the years. She thanked the committee for choosing her and Farrell and concluded by saying that both sisters love Siloam Springs.
Chamber President and CEO Arthur Hulbert then presented highlights from the previous year, including how the Dogwood Festival would not have been possible without the help of Nabholz Construction, who built a fence to comply with Arkansas Department of Health mandates.
Hulbert also talked about presenting a $2.1 million statewide Shark Tank grant in 10 days.
The $2.1 million grant will fund the training of 100 nurses across the state of Arkansas. The chamber will work with NWTI, the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith and Arkansas State University at Newport to help nurses complete their education.
After graduation, nurses will work in care facilities in Jonesboro, Marked Tree and Newport.
“It’s not a regional problem,” Hulbert said. “This is a statewide agreement. So we’re talking about being a statewide solution.”
Hulbert also talked about the Chamber Maker Space and the ability for people to use 3D printers, laser cutters, and woodworking tools.
He then mentioned plans for the Maker Space to build a life-size multi-tool that will be a combination of 3D printer and laser cutter along with other tools for people to use.
Finally, Hulbert outlined the chamber’s accomplishments for the service for 2021. These accomplishments included:
• Helped 22 start-up businesses in the chamber and helped them obtain the necessary grants and tax credits.
• Raised over $20,000 for scholarships for women and minorities, which recently helped 38 businesses.
• Have a successful Dogwood Festival with over 40,000 attendees.
• Hosting of 33 ribbon cuttings and 44 network events.
• Have over 1,800 hours of economic development such as a job fair, helping fill empty buildings, responding to business inquiries and workforce development.
Following Hulbert’s presentation, the 2022 Pioneer Citizen Award was presented to Mary Nolan, Director of Operations of the Siloam Springs Museum.
Nolan spoke about her time as a student at John Brown University, her time with the Parks and Recreation department at Siloam Springs as well as her time in parks and recreation in general, and then her permanent return to Siloam Springs when she became the manager of the Children’s Center.
She concluded by clicking on her ruby red slippers and saying there’s no place like home.
Mayor Judy Nation then presented proclamations to Farrell, Jenks and Nolan. State Rep. Robin Lundstrum then presented proclamations from the Arkansas House of Representatives