Friday, November 22, 2013

Give Thanks to Local Business


As Thanksgiving approaches, we often think of family, food, and fellowship.  It is the time of year that we celebrate with loved ones, count our blessings (but not our calories!), and begin the countdown to Christmas.

This holiday season, I ask each of you to take time to show your gratitude to the local businesses, industries, and organizations of our area.  Though kind words and encouragement are great, the best way to give thanks and support is through buying local.

Every dollar spent locally circulates six times within the local economy.  With approximately $0.45 of each $1 going back into the community, your initial dollar spent will have a $1.80 impact on our local economy while helping several other local businesses along the way.  Plus, by supporting local business, you help with job creation and retention, as well as sales tax generation that supports many great things in our community such as local parks, youth sports, and services.

Please remember your local businesses when shopping, whether before Thanksgiving, on Black Friday or Small Business Saturday, and through December.  For your convenience, I've attached our membership list to reference when planning gifts.

We thank each and every one of you for your support of the Chamber, our members, and the community.  In celebration of the holiday, the Chamber offices will be closed Thursday and Friday, November 28 and 29.  Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving, and remember to Shop Local!

Ammi Tucker
Executive Director
Osceola/SMC Chamber of Commerce

The Local Multiplier
U of A Economic Multiplier 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Big River Steel supplier outreach events to be held in October

BRS supplier outreach event to target small, minority-owned businesses
Participants to learn about business, contracting opportunities

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas (August 28, 2013) – Two workshops will be held in October for small and minority businesses interested in doing business with Big River Steel. The workshops, which will take place October 16 in Little Rock and October 23 in Blytheville, are offered to all small, minority and women-owned businesses in Arkansas. There is no cost to attend but registration is required. Register at The workshops are coordinated by Big River Steel, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) and the Governor’s Office.  

In January 2013, Big River announced plans to build a $1 billion steel mill in Mississippi County that will directly employ more than 500 people with annual average compensation of $75,000 a year. The company plans to produce steel for the automotive, oil and gas, and electrical energy industries. Construction of the mill will take approximately two years.

The October 16 Little Rock workshop will be held 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. at the Jack Stephens Center on the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s campus. The October 23 Blytheville workshop, which will cover the same material as the Little Rock event, will be held 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. at Arkansas Northeastern College. Participants can attend either workshop which will outline details and requirements of doing business with Big River. All business sectors are encouraged to attend as there are a variety of opportunities. 

“This outreach event is an excellent way for Arkansas’s small, minority and women-owned businesses to discover new business and contracting opportunities with Big River Steel,” said AEDC’s Small and Minority Business Director Patricia Nunn Brown. “We want to ensure that our small and minority businesses are well represented in constructing and servicing this plant.”
 For more information on this event, call 1-800-ARKANSAS or e-mail

Article submitted by Scott Hardin
AEDC Marketing and Communications 

Friday, August 9, 2013

OPD 8th Annual Make-A-Wish Poker Run

The 8th annual Osceola Police Department Make-A-Wish Motorcycle Poker Run will be held on Saturday, September 21, 2013. Both motorcycles and cars will meet up at Osceola High School, located at 2750 W Semmes Ave, at 9:00 a.m. to gather and parade through town.

The OPD fundraising partnership with the Mid-South Chapter of Make-A-Wish began locally in September of 2006. Since that time, over $102,000 has been raised within Mississippi County to grant 14 wishes for children ranging in ages from 3 to 15. Last year alone, the OPD raised over $20,000 for Make-A-Wish.

Entry for this year’s Poker Run is $20 in advance or $25 the day of the event, which includes one hand, lunch, and a commemorative tee shirt while supplies last. An auction will immediately follow lunch.

For more information, call 870-622-7060, 870-622-4943, or 870-563-5213. To register, mail completed forms to:
OPD Poker Run
Attn: Cathey Willbanks
401 W Keiser
Osceola, AR 72370

Forms are available for pickup at the Osceola Police Department and at the Osceola/South Mississippi County Chamber of Commerce office.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation of the Mid-South grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. For more information about the Make-A-Wish foundation or to register a child, visit

Article submitted by Billy Willbanks
on behalf of the OPD Make-A-Wish Poker Run
The City of Osceola is a proud member of the Osceola/South Mississippi County Chamber of Commerce

Thursday, August 8, 2013

ANC WORK Program—A Collaborative Effort to Build a Workforce


Arkansas Northeastern College is reviving a successful program from the 1990s to help address current and future workforce demands in the region. Workforce Orientation & Retraining Keys (WORK) is a sixty clock hour program designed to lift under-skilled local residents living in poverty out of poverty and, simultaneously, advance economic development by expanding the local workforce. 

American Greetings in Osceola has also shown its support of the WORK Program—Workforce 
Orientation and Retraining Keys, now available through Arkansas Northeastern College. American 
Greetings Human Resource Manager David Oakes (L) presents ANC President Dr. James
Shemwell with a $5,000 check for the WORK Program.
“Through industry and community support, this program will reach out and find people who currently are not supporting themselves and give them the opportunity to learn the skills to be productive in the workforce.  Not only is the WORK Program free to participants, it also incorporates an incentive pay to the students as long as they continue to meet the demands of the program, including showing up for each class on time,” said Dr. James Shemwell, President of Arkansas Northeastern College. Shemwell noted that WORK is one of several initiatives that the College has underway to address present and future workforce needs locally.

According to Shemwell, WORK will provide individuals with the necessary skills and support network to access economic opportunity. Community mentors will work with each WORK participant throughout the 8 weeks of training and extending until the participant has successfully maintained employment for 90 days. 

Kagome Creative Foods in Osceola donates $5,000 to the newly reinstated WORK Program—a
program designed to prepare under-skilled , unemployed residents for the workforce.
(L to R)  Kagome Plant Manager Charlie Simons and Human Resources Manager Nita Reams
present a check to ANC President Dr. James Shemwell.
WORK participants will have the opportunity to earn participant incentives up to $300 during training to help remove barriers to employment, such as funds to purchase work clothes or specialized footwear. Completers of the WORK program will have the opportunity to obtain a certificate of WORK completion, a 10-hour OSHA certificate, an American Heart Association CPR card, a Career Readiness Certificate (CRC), and job interview opportunities with local employers.

WORK represents a comprehensive partnership effort among Arkansas Northeastern College, the Great River Economic Development Foundation, the Mississippi County Equal Opportunity Commission, area industries, community and faith-based leaders, and the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation. 

“We’ve been fortunate to have the support of the community and many of our local industries,” added Shemwell who said that employer partners were still being sought for the program which is expected to enroll students later this month. By investing $5,000 for program seed money to launch the program, employer partners will enjoy interview priority with program graduates, as well as access to the class and students during the program. To sustain the program’s viability into the future, employers will be asked to contribute $750 to the WORK program for each WORK graduate hired by that employer, a “pay-as-you-go” approach. “After their initial investment of seed money, employers only will be asked to contribute pro rata as they realize value from the program through actual hires made,” said Shemwell.

The WORK course, to be offered both in Blytheville and Osceola, will be made available at no cost to participating trainees. Douglas Echols, most recently an ANC Career Coach at Osceola High School, has been selected as the WORK Coordinator. Those interested in the WORK program can contact the ANC Harry L. Crisp Center at 763-6222.

Submitted by Rachel Gifford
Associate Vice President for Development and College Relations
Arkansas Northeastern College
Arkansas Northeastern College is a proud member of the Osceola/South Mississippi County Chamber of Commerce.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Art Photography Exhibit On Display

For the month of May 2013, The Osceola/South Mississippi County Chamberof Commerce and  The Arts Council of Mississippi County invite the public to view a unique display of photographs taken and prepared by local photographers Joel Collier and Al Anderson.  The photographs are available for viewing during regular business hours at the Chamber offices, located at 116 N Maple in Osceola.  In April, Collier & Anderson were the featured gallery artists at the Ritz Civic Center, located in downtown Blytheville.
"Splash" by Joel Collier

Joel Collier, a self-employed nation-wide home repair specialist, is originally from Redding, California.  He moved to Blytheville in 2005 when he purchased two homes in the area to repair and sell.  He became interested in photography when he watched a friend go through a roll of film of pictures and discarded prints that Collier thought he would have kept.  This inspired him to purchase a “point and shoot” digital camera.  He taught himself and asked advice from friends on how to take pictures.

For the month of February 2010, The Arts Council of Mississippi County featured Collier’s photography for their gallery show.  Of that experience, Collier decided he learned two things.  First, he felt he didn’t really know how to take pictures to his satisfaction, only that he knew how to“talk” to his camera.  Second, he felt that with his digital camera, he was limited to what size of picture he could take.  This pushed him with the desire to go from digital photography to film photography.

"Beekeeper" by Al Anderson
Joel Collier considers himself a “documentary” and “self-portrait” photographer.  He believes his pictures reflect part of himself and how he feels, combined with his life experiences to also include his perspective on the subject of his photo shoot.  Collier explains, “I believe I shoot ‘footprints’ of man.  For example, buildings, roads, cars and things that we leave behind when we are gone.”

He stated that his photographs in this show express a journey through his photographic skills and experiences.  His photographs show sights he saw in West Virginia, Texas, Arkansas and California. For these pictures he has used some film that people may think has “expired”.  For example, one picture on display which he took in November 2012 was taken with film that was made in 1947 and was dated to expire in 1948.  “I don’t do this all the time.  I have a theory on film.” Collier states, “If it has an expiration date prior to when I started high school, I start to wonder.  If it is after 1977, I believe it should work.”

Collier gave his thoughts about fellow gallery artist Al Anderson’s work, “I think Al has a really unusual mixture of creative, technical and experimental photography.”

"Piano and Teacher's Chair" by Joel Collier
Joel Collier met Al Anderson during Collier’s 2010 photography art show at The Ritz.  After talking about their common love for photography, Collier asked Anderson and local photographers Chris Thomas, Jason Lloyd and Richard Schlosser, to present a combined photography art show of subjects around Mississippi County and other local areas in Arkansas.  The Arts Council of Mississippi County invited the group to be their gallery artists in February 2010.

In 2002, Kenosha, Wisconsin native Al Anderson was discharged from the United States Navy and moved to Blytheville, Arkansas, where he currently lives with his wife Lora and their two children, Chase and Vanessa.  Anderson states that his interest in photography actually started about 18 years ago when he started taking pictures of trains.  He did this for about three years.  In 2010, he got the bug again and started taking pictures with a digital camera.

He tells that through the eye of his camera lens he has learned a new creative outlet different from his normally routine technical work environment.  His new view has him experiencing life with a new perspective.  With the travels he made with his job as a Melt Shop Electrician with Nucor Steel Arkansas, Anderson displays pictures he has taken from different locations in Arkansas as well as pictures taken in Canada, Switzerland, and Finland.

Anderson stated of Collier, “I admire the patience and creativity that Joel has for the medium that he uses."

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Area Arkansas Scholars Recognized at Banquet

The annual Osceola/South Mississippi County Chamber of Commerce banquet for area Arkansas Scholars was held on Tuesday, April 30, 2013, at 6:30 pm at the Ohlendorf Civic Center.   The event honored this year's recipients with recognition and a certificate of achievement in the presence of their parents and guardians, superintendents, principals, and guidance counselors.  

The Chamber is proud to announce the Arkansas Scholars for 2013 from Osceola and Rivercrest High Schools are:

Osceola High School: Quaylon Estell, Jessica Foster, Charity James, Arnelle Jones, Ashton McFarland, Haven Prince, Swandaysha Pugh, Rashad Roberts, Kaci Scales, Chanse Smithey, and Savannah Wilson.

Rivercrest High School: Demarya Barner, Micalah Beall, Madison Bell, Rodney Boone, Taylor Brooks, Brooke Colbert, Evan Delancey, Nick Mallard, Dalton Murphy, Peyton Parish, Phillip Porter, Ainsley Reece, Taylor Rogers, Laura Ryals, Karissa Sparks, and Brittany Stewart.

High school students are asked to meet the following criteria in order to be recognized as Arkansas Scholars: 1). Earn semester grades of "C" or above in all courses; 2) Achieve a 95% or better attendance record (average over four years); 3) Complete the recommended courses to graduate from high school and to prepare for post secondary education; 4) Finish high school in eight consecutive semesters; 5) complete eight hours of community service; and 6) Have no major disciplinary actions on your transcript.   

Both schools will designate the Arkansas Scholar recipients on their respective graduation programs. Employers in the state and colleges that request transcripts will also see a special decal, letting them know that the student met these higher requirements to be designated as an Arkansas Scholar. In addition to these distinctions, several higher education institutions in Arkansas have announced scholarships for Arkansas Scholars graduates.

This annual recognition event, sponsored by the Osceola/South Mississippi County Chamber of Commerce, was started as a two-year program during the 1996-1997 school year and the first banquet was held May 6, 1999. The program has now extended to a four-year program, following students from their freshman through senior years of high school. Event organizer and Chamber board member Shawn Chafin thanks everyone that works to keep this program going strong, as the students work very hard to meet the requirements for this distinction.

The Arkansas Scholars program is proudly sponsored by the Arkansas Business & Education Alliance and the Osceola/South Mississippi County Chamber of Commerce. For more information about the program, visit

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

SMC United Way 5K

The South Mississippi County United Way will be hosting the annual United Way 5K on Saturday, April 27, 2013 at 8:00 a.m. in Osceola. The 5K run/walk is not just a fundraiser, but a healthy awareness event to promote exercising. United Way realizes it is hard to stay healthy, but living a healthy lifestyle has so many benefits, not just for you, but for your family too.

To encourage exercise there will be a 5K run/walk. It will start at the Osceola Courthouse Square at 8:00am. Registration will be $10 for all ages, 6 and up. You can click here to register online or pick up an application at the Osceola/South Mississippi County Chamber of Commerce, Regions Bank or BancorpSouth. Applications can be dropped off at the same locations and the University of Arkansas Extension Office in Blytheville. A T-shirt is included in the registration fee!

Registration will be open the day of the race, starting at 7am, but prices will increase to $15 , register now!
Announcement of all awards and prizes will be as soon as the race is completed by all participants on the courthouse square. The South Mississippi County United Way invites you and your entire family out for a morning of fun and showing your support for a great cause!

For more information, contact Tamika Jenkins at 870-532-6084 or