Camp Siloam hosted the 2022 Chamber of Commerce Banquet on Thursday.
The theme for the 92nd annual banquet was "There's No Place Like Home."
Several awards were presented: the Pioneer Citizen Award, OCLE (Outstanding Civic Leadership Event) awards, 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 introduction of the new chamber board of directors chairperson.
The event began with a welcome from the new chairperson Cammi Hevener and an invocation by Pastor Tim Estes of New Life Church. Emcee Randy Torres made the introductions and presented most of the awards.
State Farm business owner Jordan Smithson congratulated the chamber ambassadors and presented to Kamaron Rackleff of Moss Insurance the Volunteer of the Year award. Smithson also presented the 2022 Diamond Business Member to Northwest Technical Institute.
Torres then presented the businesses of the year awards.
This year's small business of the year was Creative Corner, the mid-size business was Moss Insurance and the large business was Alternative Design.
Torres also presented the Non-Profit of the Year Award to Ability Tree. Following the awards, former Board Chairperson Jimmy Allen introduced Hevener as the new board chairperson.
Hevener spoke about her love for Siloam Springs and the importance of shopping local and her parents as well as her second family at Ward Jones Realtors.
She also spoke about growing up with notable Siloam Springs residents Todd Simmons, the CEO of Simmons Foods; Kurt Price, a lender for Arvest Bank; Ricky Clark, whose family owned the bowling alley; and Rex Blisard, the 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 my home in Siloam Springs."
The OCLE awards were then presented to sisters Audra Farrell and Lucinda Jenks. Originally, they were supposed to be presented at the OCLE Banquet in September, but the banquet was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
They were introduced by Hank Jenks, Lucinda Jenks' husband. Lucinda Jenks did the majority of the speaking, talking about her life. Both Lucinda Jenks and Farrell spoke about their families and their love for Siloam Springs.
Farrell emailed a statement the following morning saying she feels thankful for the wonderful honor and was equally honored to share this with her sister.
"I give thanks to our parents and grandparents for instilling the importance of being involved, getting involved and giving back to our Siloam Springs community," Farrell said in her statement. "I also want to thank La-Z-Boy for placing their trust in me for 13 great years allowing me to serve the employees, and the opportunity to serve my community as the instrument where I was able to make a positive impact."
Farrell concluded by saying there is no place like home.
Jenks also sent an email the following day stating she was thankful and honored to receive the award with her sister.
"Receiving this together is a true honor," Jenks said in her statement. "Our family legacy in this town is deep and we love to call Siloam Springs our home town."
Jenks also thanked her employers for believing in her and allowing her to serve the community throughout the years. She thanked the committee for choosing her and Farrell and concluded by saying both sisters love Siloam Springs.
Chamber President and CEO Arthur Hulbert then presented highlights from the previous year including how the Dogwood Festival could not have been possible without the help of Nabholz Construction, which built a fence to comply with mandates from the Arkansas Department of Health.
Hulbert also talked about presenting a $2.1 million statewide Shark Tank grant in 10 days.
The $2.1 million grant will go to fund the education of 100 nurses across the state of Arkansas. The chamber will work with NWTI, the University of Arkansas Fort Smith, and Arkansas State University Newport to help the nurses complete their education.
Following their graduation, the nurses will be staffed at care facilities in Jonesboro, Marked Tree and Newport.
"This is not a regional issue," Hulbert said. "This is a statewide deal. So we're talking about being a statewide solution."
Hulbert also spoke about the Chamber Maker Space and the opportunity for people to use 3-D printers, laser cutters and woodworking tools.
He then mentioned plans for the Maker Space to construct a life-sized multi-tool which will be a combination 3-D printer and laser cutter along with other tools for people to use.
Lastly, Hulbert presented chamber accomplishments for service for 2021. These accomplishments included:
• Helping 22 businesses get started in the chamber as well as assisting them with getting needed grants and tax credits.
• Raising more than $20,000 for women and minority scholarships which has recently helped 38 businesses.
• Having a successful Dogwood Festival with over 40,000 attendees.
• Hosting 33 ribbon cuttings and 44 network events.
• Having more than 1,800 hours of economic development such as a job fair, helping to fill empty buildings, responding to business requests for information, and workforce development.
Following Hulbert's presentation, the 2022 Pioneer Citizen award was presented to Mary Nolan, the director of operations for the Siloam Springs Museum.
Nolan spoke about her time as a student at John Brown University, her time as a part of Siloam Springs Parks and Recreation Department as well as her time in parks and recreation in general and then her time coming back to Siloam Springs permanently when she became the head of the Children's Center.
She concluded by clicking her red ruby slippers and saying there is no place like home.
Mayor Judy Nation then presented proclamations to Farrell, Jenks and Nolan. State Representative Robin Lundstrum then presented proclamations from the Arkansas House of Representatives