64.6 Downtown has partnered with the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce to host Invest Fort Smith, a one-day summit designed to build awareness of downtown economic development opportunities.
The key objectives of the summit will include discussion of “best practices, lessons learned, and prospects within downtown Fort Smith,” the organizations stated in a joint press release.
Ticket prices are $25 per person, and the event will include two break-out sessions, panel discussions, and a lunch. The press release describes Invest Fort Smith as “ideal for property owners, developers, small business owners, banks, non-profits, construction, architects, realtors, and city/state public officials.” Roby Brock, CEO of Talk Business & Politics, will be one of the panel moderators.
According to 64.6 Downtown Executive Director Talicia Richardson, the idea to bring the summit to Fort Smith arose after attending the Invest Springdale event in June. The Fort Smith event will be held at Temple Live on Oct. 30.
“I have to say hats off to (Springdale Downtown’s) Kelly Syer. I attended their event, and she and her team did a phenomenal job bringing a diverse group together, from for-profit to non-profit, to explore the opportunities in downtown Springdale,” Richardson told Talk Business & Politics in a Wednesday (Sept. 12) interview. “The demographics of Springdale are very similar to Fort Smith, and I think we have to find more opportunities to work together while respecting our uniqueness. But because of the energy in that room, I said, ‘Why not Fort Smith?’ This is something we could most definitely bring to our city.”
Richardson hopes the event will draw interest from within the community as well as Central and Northwest Arkansas and Oklahoma.
“It will be a great chance for anyone who wants to do business to get contacts and expand their networks. We’ll have bankers here as well as people looking to relocate a business or expand in downtown Fort Smith, or someone who just wants to see the different opportunities available. It could be a property owner, business owner, entrepreneur, or realtor needing business contacts who may want to consider opening an office downtown. There are many different opportunities and angles. We’re not closing off to anyone.”
Richardson said she hoped the energy of the event would also bring property owners in the downtown area who “may not have been able to do things with their buildings. Maybe this will facilitate ideas to explore pop-up businesses throughout the avenue and the Central Business Improvement District. There may be some under-utilizing their upper floors who may wish to consider residential uses. That could appeal to people in construction and developers, who may not have the right contacts at this time.”
The event aligns with the Propelling Downtown Forward initiative directed by 64.6 Downtown. 64.6 Downtown is a nonprofit founded in 2015 by Fort Smith entrepreneur Steve Clark with the purpose of creating vibrant spaces in downtown Fort Smith that further economic development. It’s responsible for the Garrison Commons downtown pocket park and The Unexpected, an annual event bringing urban and contemporary art to Arkansas.