The University of Arkansas – Fort Smith announced a $50,000 gift from Arvest Bank this Friday, May 21, 2021, which will support the university’s strategic investments at The Bakery District in downtown Fort Smith. In recognition of the gift, UAFS will name the entrance of its new space in honor of the bank.
The highly-anticipated Bakery District space, located at 70 S. Seventh St., will be dedicated to economic development, housing the university’s Center for Business and Professional Development, Family Enterprise Center, and the newest regional office of the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center.
Roger Holroyd, president of Arvest Bank Fort Smith Region, explained the bank’s interest in the project.
“Arvest Bank is excited to be part of the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith’s expansion into The Bakery District,” Holroyd said. “The combination of the Family Enterprise Center, the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center, and the Center for Business and Professional Development under one roof makes perfect sense. The fact that the roof belongs to the Bakery venue is appropriate since the entrepreneurial spirit required to bring the Bakery to the marketplace is reflective of the values taught in these UAFS-affiliated entities.”
The Family Enterprise Center, or FEC, provides a bridge between the university and businesses while offering a forum for family-run businesses to share expertise and learning across generations. The Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center, or ASBTDC, is a higher education-based economic development program that can help with business creation, management, and operation. The Center for Business and Professional Development, or CBPD, works with regional businesses to increase their productivity and competitive stance by developing employees’ skills at any level.
As part of the new partnership between UAFS and Arvest, Tim Shields, Arvest’s community and relationship advisor, will serve as the executive in residence for the College of Business and Industry through March 30. Shields also is chairman of the UAFS Foundation’s board of directors.
The partnership will also offer UAFS students opportunities to interact with business professionals from Arvest through presentations made to classes in person and online, student internships, and other events.
Kendall Ross, director of the Center for Business and Professional Development, will work in the new space, and he’s looking forward to it.
“Arvest has been a long-time supporter of UAFS, and their generosity to the UAFS space at The Bakery will result in a state-of-the-art facility to provide professional development and training at this center of excellence,” Ross said.
Blake Rickman, vice chancellor for Advancement at UAFS, is eager to see how the partnership unfolds.
“We are thrilled that Arvest is investing in the vision UAFS has cast for all the economic development activities at The Bakery District,” Rickman said. “The faculty and staff dedicated to this space will be deploying an important academic and economic pillar of the UAFS strategies moving forward. Early on, we knew innovative partners like Arvest would want to support our efforts to enrich the economic fabric of the greater Fort Smith region.”