Bentonville chamber official departing for top job with Joplin chamber

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 1,608 views 

The Joplin (Mo.) Area Chamber of Commerce (JACC) has hired Fort Smith native Travis Stephens as its new president. The organization announced the news Wednesday (June 1). Stephens will begin the job on June 28.

Stephens is the chief operations officer for the Greater Bentonville Area Chamber of Commerce. He’s been with the chamber since March 2019. Before that, he was the director of economic development for the city of Bella Vista for three years. Before that, he spent five years as CEO of the Clarksville-Johnson Co. Chamber of Commerce.

“Travis comes from an impressive chamber background with knowledge and experience in community relations, economic development, and civic engagement,” said Betsy Kissel, chair of the JACC board and search committee member. “We are looking forward to working with him in the near future and for years to come.”

The JACC president’s job was left vacant after Toby Teeter’s departure in July 2021. Teeter is the first director of a new initiative in Bentonville called the Collaborative.

“I firmly believe my 14 years in the field of community and economic development and the investments and developments that have been made in Joplin over the past decade are intersecting at the ideal time,” Stephens said in a statement. “The chamber will be a leader in leveraging and maximizing the community’s strengths and assets, which will help Joplin and the surrounding area to become the very best version of itself. By being innovative in our work and programming, we will attract talent, new business and industry, and, most importantly, boost and support our existing employers for further growth.”

Stephens’ departure gives the Bentonville chamber two leadership positions to fill. This past December, Graham Cobb resigned as president and CEO and now works for Walton Enterprises in Bentonville. Walton Enterprises is the family office that serves the personal and business needs of the family of Sam and Helen Walton.

The Bentonville chamber promoted executive vice president Ashley Wardlow to fill Cobb’s role in January on an interim basis while searching for a permanent replacement.