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In tune with tomorrow.

Fayetteville Chamber Of Commerce Makes Plans For The Future

Bigger and better things are ahead for the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce.

Bigger in terms of the expansion and renovation of its headquarters.

Better in the way of a drive for national accreditation.

The renovation of the chamber's 69-year-old office was necessitated by the expansion of its staff as well as its programs, both of which have grown greatly since the chamber was founded 103 years ago.

The 24,000-SF headquarters is home to more than 80 committees, subcommittees and task forces.

The expansion will add 1,500 SF of space to the building. It will include six new offices, the extension of the existing conference room and the addition of a new, smaller conference room.

A new computer system will be purchased, designed to handle the day-to-day needs of the chamber.

New wiring, a new roof and a replacement for the building's antiquated heating and air conditioning system also are among the items budgeted for renovation.

The expected cost is $250,000.

"The chamber of commerce is the front door to the community," says Steve Ward, chamber president. "It's almost always the first stop for businessmen. It will give us a fresh look for those people coming from out of town."

The improvements to the building also will make a difference in attitude and work efforts of the chamber's 10 full- and part-time employees, Ward adds.

"|The renovation~ is going to be a lot of those things that you don't see but will improve the efficiency of the office," he says.

Funds Not Found

The remodeling has not begun. Funding is the stumbling block.

"We're contacting all of the members, asking for contributions above their normal dues to facilitate the project," Ward says.

The chamber's board of directors mandated that at least $150,000 be raised before any work could be initiated.

"We are virtually ready to go to bid and as soon as we reach the $150,000 mark, we will go to bid," Ward says. "We anticipate |that~ to be sometime in late summer."

There are about 6,000 chambers of commerce in the United States. Of those, only three in Arkansas are nationally accredited.

Ward wants his organization to join those ranks.

To meet the standards set by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Ward and his staff must make some adjustments in their planning process, update job descriptions and evaluate the organization's needs.

It's no easy task.

"Basically, it's a process by which the membership ... identifies its weaknesses and brings |itself~ up to snuff, which is a challenge in itself," Ward says.

Fayetteville's application for national accreditation was made last June. Once a review of the chamber is submitted to its board of directors, the recommended changes are forwarded to the national chamber.

Two to six months later, following an in-depth investigation, the national chamber's representatives will make an on-site review to make sure the standards are being met.

"After that visitation, they will take their findings back to the U.S. chamber and the board will either approve |the accreditation~ or send us a letter saying 'You've still got some things to do,'" Ward says.

He expects a decision from the national chamber no later than November or December.

"|National accreditation~ defines the standard of excellence for chambers," he says. "It says that we're doing things right, from our filing system to the processes of our committees."
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Title Annotation:Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce's s headquarters remodelling
Author:Taylor, Tim
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:May 11, 1992
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