The Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce has hired 5 Star Productions and Paris Marketing & Public Relations to develop and market a video touting the military infrastructure at Fort Chaffee. The project is supported by a $20,000 grant approved by Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
The $20,000 Military Affairs Grant Program award to the Fort Smith Economic Infrastructure Fund – a fund managed by the chamber – was made possible by the Military Affairs Initiative Gov. Hutchinson launched in 2015. Retired Air Force Col. Robert Ator, director of Military Affairs at Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC), oversees the program and advises the Governor’s Military Affairs Committee.
The grant was announced Tuesday (May 7), but Fort Smith chamber President and CEO Tim Allen said production began weeks ago.
“We started gathering the footage about a month, or a month and a half ago. The colonel [Lt. Col. Dwight Ikenberry, training site manager at the Fort Chaffee Joint Maneuver Training Center – JMTC] invited us out to the live fire range and we were able to get some good shots of all they do out there,” Allen said.
Allen said the video and its marketing is part of what the chamber and community do to promote itself around the nation and globe. Specifically, the video will be used to target regional military units that could benefit from the firing ranges and other military assets at Fort Chaffee.
“So, as you know, part of our process is to be more aggressive, to market ourselves. … And with this , we will have a good representation of what all is available at Chaffee. We can say, ‘Here’s a destination to train your troops. We have all the things you need,'” Allen said.
According to the AEDC, Fort Chaffee is the largest JMTC in the central U.S. with more than 60,000 acres of ranges and maneuver space. Fort Chaffee is home to the 142nd Field Artillery Brigade, the Razorback Range and numerous federal entities that use the installation and ranges.
“Supporting our military installations and growing their missions has positive economic effects and provides true value to national security,” Gov. Hutchinson said in Tuesday’s statement. “Arkansas is proud to provide training and development opportunities for servicemen and women within their surrounding communities.”
The AEDC noted that the Military Affairs Grant focuses on the growth of existing military installations and missions and more than $600,000 has been awarded since 2015.
“In a time of near-peer Nation-State competition, training spaces like Fort Chaffee are indispensable to national security,” Col. Ator said. “Arkansas is extremely fortunate to call Fort Chaffee ours, and the Military Affairs Committee will fight for their mission as they fight for all Arkansans.”
An economic impact study of military installations in Arkansas revealed that military business interests account for $4.5 billion annually and employs 60,000 people, according to the AEDC. Fort Chaffee’s annual impact is over $200 million per year, supporting 400 jobs that swell during peak training periods to several thousand jobs.