UAFS names new director of Family Enterprise Center

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 1,370 views 

The Center for Economic Development at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith (UAFS) announced Wednesday (Nov. 30) that Justin Smith will be the new director of the Family Enterprise Center (FEC).

Smith, 40, comes to UAFS from Arkansas Tech University – Ozark campus, where he worked as the chief business and community outreach officer for the past eight years.

“Justin’s work as Chief Business and Community Outreach Officer for ATU-Ozark and his time spent with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission will be invaluable to the Family Enterprise Center,” said Kendall Ross, executive director of the Center for Economic Development. “He received great support from our UAFS search committee, faculty, and staff. I am confident that he brings energy, passion, and a great vision to the Family Enterprise Center that will serve to move us forward as a center of excellence.”

Smith, who started in the position Nov. 28, said his first steps will be to get to know the dynamics of the different peer groups the center hosts for the members and talking to members about what programming they want to see in terms of speakers, training, etc.

“I think it is important to be a good listener at first, and find out what is working and what is an opportunity for growth from the members. I also will look for data on what has assisted family owned businesses nationwide and have an information sharing to members with any trends that assist,” he said.

Justin Smith

As far as long term goals, Smith said he would like the FEC to become known regionally as a true resource where family-owned businesses know they will get actionable resources by becoming involved.

“Not only will they be able to talk with peers in similar roles but have resources available to them to help solve their unique needs,” he said.

Prior to Smith’s time at ATU-Ozark, he spent a number of years as sector manager with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. He has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Arkansas and a master’s degree in student affairs administration from Arkansas Tech University.

His starting annual salary with the FEC is $85,000. The Center for Economic Development will introduce Smith to the members of the Family Enterprise Center during the FEC Quarterly Breakfast at 7:30 a.m. Thursday (Dec. 1) at the Center for Economic Development at the Bakery District in downtown Fort Smith.