Western Arkansas Business of the Year award winners recognized, help sell the region

by Talk Business & Politics staff (staff2@talkbusiness.net) 482 views 

The four winners of the inaugural Talk Business & Politics Western Arkansas Business of the Year award were recognized Tuesday (Oct. 1), with OGE Economic Development Manager Richard Cornelison saying each company helps in his job of selling the area as a good place to do business.

Talk Business & Politics launched the Business of the Year award program to not only highlight efforts of businesses, nonprofits and startup operations, but to consider their future impact on the Fort Smith region. The program is sponsored by Oklahoma City-based OG&E.

Following are the four categories and the winner in each category.
• Business of the Year: This category recognizes businesses with 300 or more employees.
Fort Smith-based ArcBest

• Small Business of the Year: This category recognizes businesses with less than 300 employees.
First National Bank of Fort Smith

• The Startup: This category recognizes a business founded in the Fort Smith metro within the past three years.
Fort Smith Brewing Company

• Nonprofit of the Year: This category recognizes a nonprofit agency, with preference given to those unique to the area.
Arkansas Colleges of Health Education

Unlike some area recognition programs, nominees and those chosen to receive category awards were not solicited for advertising, nor did the selection process include a social media push for votes. Factors for selection in the Talk Business & Politics Western Arkansas Business of the Year award program included the success of the business, philanthropic efforts, leadership in the business community, and activities outside the region that reflect well on the region.

“We had a good pool of nominations for this first year. The nominations not only made it tough to make a selection in each category, but served as a reminder of the broad and deep philanthropy and community support from businesses and organizations in the Fort Smith metro,” said Talk Business & Politics President and Executive Editor Michael Tilley.

Cornelison thanked each company for participating in the first year of the awards program, and said that although his office is in Oklahoma City, his job includes promoting economic growth in the Fort Smith region. He said the region is known through the OG&E system for being innovative and was the first area in which the utility installed its smart meter program.

“What you do here helps me tell that (economic development) story,” Cornelison told the crowd at Tuesday’s event held in downtown Fort Smith in the meeting space at Propak’s corporate headquarters building.

(from left) Richard Cornelison, OG&E economic development manager, Judy McReynolds, president, CEO and chairman of Fort Smith-based ArcBest, and Rob Ratley, OG&E community affairs manager-Arkansas region
(from left) Richard Cornelison, OG&E economic development manager, Sam Sicard, president and CEO of First National Bank of Fort Smith, and Rob Ratley, OG&E community affairs manager-Arkansas region
(from left) Richard Cornelison, OG&E economic development manager, Quentin Willard, owner of Fort Smith Brewing Company, and Rob Ratley, OG&E community affairs manager-Arkansas region
(from left) Richard Cornelison, OG&E economic development manager, David Craig, representing the Arkansas Colleges of Health Education, and Rob Ratley, OG&E community affairs manager-Arkansas region
(from left) Jim Fourmy, David Craig, Rep. Justin Boyd, R-Fort Smith, and Dr. Ron Darbeau
(from left) Jackie Krutsch, Rob Ratley and Lance McReynolds

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