Arvest Bank in Fort Smith recently announced a $50,000 gift to the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith (UAFS). The funds will benefit the school’s new space located at The Bakery District in downtown Fort Smith.

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The space will be dedicated to economic development and is expected to open in October. It will house UAFS’ Center for Business and Professional Development, Family Enterprise Center (FEC) and a new regional office for the Arkansas Small Business and Technology development Center.

“Arvest Bank is excited to be part of the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith’s expansion into The Bakery District,” said Roger Holroyd, president for Arvest in Fort Smith and the River Valley. “The combination of the Family Enterprise Center, the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center (ASBTDC), and the Center for Business and Professional Development (CBPD) under one roof makes perfect sense. The fact that the roof belongs to the Bakery venue is appropriate because the entrepreneurial spirit required to bring the Bakery to the marketplace is reflective of the values taught in these UAFS-affiliated entities.”

Additionally, Arvest community and relationship advisor Tim Shields will serve as executive-in-residence for the UAFS College of Business and Industry through March 30. Shields also is chairman of the UAFS Foundation’s board of directors.

UAFS will name the entrance to its new space in honor of Arvest and students will have opportunities to interact with bank personnel through in-person and online presentations, student internships and other events.

Arvest has been a long-time supporter of UAFS, and its 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,” said Kendall Ross, director of the Center for Business and Professional Development.

The FEC, provides a bridge between the university and businesses while offering a forum for family-run businesses to share expertise and learning across generations. ASBTDC is a higher education-based economic development program that can help with business creation, management and operation. The CBPD works with regional businesses to increase their productivity and competitive stance by developing employees’ skills at all levels.

“We are thrilled that Arvest is investing in the vision UAFS has cast for all the economic development activities at The Bakery District,” UAFS vice chancellor for advancement Blake 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.”