FORT SMITH -- Arkansas' second-largest city received significant help from the state by way of its advertising and promotions commission last week.
The Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism announced that 21 such commissions and convention and visitor bureaus throughout the state received more than $3.5 million in grants supported by funding from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act on Wednesday. The Arkansas CARES Act Steering Committee approved funding the grants in November, according to a news release.
The Fort Smith Advertising and Promotions Commission received $53,612.90. The grant comes at a time when the city of Fort Smith has made changes at its facilities that is designed to draw people to the area, as well as, by extension, the commission's responsibilities.
The Fort Smith Board of Directors voted Nov. 10 to move forward on an agreement for management of the Fort Smith Convention Center with OVG Facilities, a subsidiary of the Los Angeles-based private firm Oak View Group. At the time, the facility was being managed by the advertising and promotions commission with a city employee, Tim Seeberg, serving as its general manager.
The board heard a proposal from Oak View Group in July. In a memo to City Administrator Carl Geffken dated Nov. 5, Deputy City Administrator Jeff Dingman wrote that "OVG proposed a comprehensive approach for increasing business and events at the facility, including using its nationwide network of resources to attract programming, shows, events and other offerings."
The Fort Smith Advertising and Promotions Commission voted Nov. 24 to terminate its lease agreement with the city for the management of the convention center, which had been in place since Feb. 28, 2012.
The city of Fort Smith and OVG Facilities announced on Tuesday the hiring of Marc Mulherin, 46, as the convention center's new general manager. Mulherin will begin today. The city's management agreement with OVG Facilities for the venue took effect Friday for an initial 3-year term, with options for up to seven subsequent one-year terms.
Grant recipients are:
• City of Batesville Advertising and Promotion Commission, $3,118.80.
• Benton Advertising & Promotion Commission, $1,339.30.
• Bentonville Advertising & Promotion Commission, $97,947.87.
• City of Brinkley Advertising & Promotion, $13,424.57.
• Conway A&P Commission, $12,677.82.
• El Dorado A&P Commission, $17,596.09.
• City of Eureka Springs, $73,707.45.
• Fayetteville Advertising & Promotion Commission, $146,683.52.
• City of Fort Smith/Fort Smith A&P, $53,612.90.
• City of Greenwood A&P Commission, $2,000.00.
• Harrison Convention and Visitors Bureau, $23,756.18.
• Hot Springs Advertising & Promotion Commission/Hot Springs Convention Center, $736,824.92.
• Little Rock A&P Commission (Little Rock CVB), $1,197,155.86.
• Multi-Purpose Civic Center Facilities Board for Pulaski County (Simmons Bank Arena), $938,482.27.
• North Little Rock Advertising and Promotion, $18,329.78.
• Ozark Area Chamber of Commerce, $370.08.
• Pine Bluff Advertising and Promotion Commission, $16,949.61.
• Rogers A & P Commission, $100,434.42.
• City of Texarkana, AR A&P Commission, $16,244.66.
• Van Buren Advertising & Promotion Commission, $41,459.69.
• West Memphis Advertising & Promotion Commission, $7,064.08