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NOVEMBER 2014

What’s Old is New Again Covington Companies Changes the Face of Conway

Seated, from left: Brandi Covington, Stephanie Covington and Lori Moix. Standing, from left: Tina Easter, Daniel Jacquez, Jason Covington, Janette Covington, George Covington Sr. holding Christian Covington, George Covington Jr., Billy McPeake and Sara Ragland.


2D — Sunday, November 16, 2014

Faulkner County Business Journal

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Honorees named for third annual Women in Business event The Conway Area Chamber of Commerce’s third annual Women in Business Awards will take place Tuesday, Dec. 9, at the Conway Expo Center and Fairgrounds. The awards luncheon will begin at 11:30 a.m. and will feature Sonja Hubbard, CEO of E-Z Mart Stores Inc., as the guest speaker. This year’s Outstanding Women in Business winners are Melissa Britton of Conway Management Inc., Chasity Campbell of Abundant Wellness/Bodyworks Spa, Tess Fletcher of Children’s Advocacy Alliance, and Lori Ross Scroggin of Conway Regional Health System. The honorees embody high standards of excellence, dedication and accomplishment to their respective organizations, industries and to the business community. Lori Case Melton of Arvest Bank is the 2014 Diamond Achievement Award winner. This award is presented to an individual with at least 25 years of professional experience who has inspired and empowered many generations of women and who has had a positive impact on those in her profession and in the community.

Lori Case Melton, Arvest Bank As vice president of business development at Arvest Bank and the first employee of First State Bank (now Centennial

Bank), Lori Case Melton has found her niche in an industry that is dominated by males. “Typical bank management is a man’s world. I like to think I have shown other women –both customers and fellow employees – that you can be a strong force within your organization and still do it without having a hard edge.”

the person I am today,” she said. “While community involvement is a personal passion that I truly enjoy, it has also been great for my 29-year career. Networking is very important, and getting

Melissa Britton, CHA, Conway Management Inc.

When Melissa Britton began working in the hotel industry in May 1993, she was an 18-year-

Melton spent 13 years with Centennial Bank, which has the distinction of being the fastest-growing financial institution in Arkansas history. The banking operation began in Conway and now has more than 1,000 employees in multiple states. “When the bank was founded, I completed everything from payroll to branding, hiring to compliance,” she said. “Helping build a successful company from the ground up was an extremely rewarding experience.” The Arkansas Bank Marketing Association named Melton “Bank Marketer of the Year” in 1999 and again in 2007. She is the only banker ever to have received the award twice. Melton is currently active in a number of community organizations and has previous board experience with several others. “I love being involved in the community and come from a family of community servants. It has molded me into

involved is a great way to do it.” How does she balance it all? Melton said that she finds it best to blend her professional life with her personal life, as banking is a people business that makes the bonding experience inevitable. “My co-workers and customers have become a part of my family-and-friend network,” she said. “I feel it is impossible to split the two. I am wife, mother, and businesswoman – all three are very important to me.”

old mother who took a job as a housekeeper to make ends meet. “My two-week-old newborn was too young to go to day care, so for the first month, I pushed a maid’s cart in one hand and a stroller in the other,” she said. “I was determined to do something with my life for my son’s sake. He was all I had.” A front desk position came open at the hotel, so Britton took the job so she could finish her senior year of high school while working full time. A year later, she was pro-

moted to assistant manager of the hotel and, as the hotel’s youngest employee, became general manager in February 1996.

lifestyle changes, and prevent future health problems. Bodyworks Spa has been runner-up in local “Best of the Best” competitions.

Britton has managed multiple properties owned by Ken and Umang Patel during her 21year career in the hotel industry. “Ken gave a lost 18-year-old girl a chance, and I turned that job into a career. Without him giving me that chance, I do not know where I would be today.”

Campbell’s foray into this line of work resulted from her own health scare. Women’s Inc. Magazine featured Campbell in an article titled “The Calm Before the Storm,” where she shared her experience with severe health problems attributed to increased aspartame consumption from diet soft drinks. After successful detoxification treatments and adopting a clean diet, Campbell has become an advocate for helping her clients live healthier lives.

As the general manager of Comfort Suites and Comfort Inn & Suites in Conway, Britton desires to give those who work for her an equal opportunity. “I take notice of what my employees are capable of and help them reach or exceed their potential. My secret thrill is knowing that people can overcome hardship and prove to themselves and to others they can do anything.”

Chasity Campbell, Abundant Wellness/ Bodyworks Spa Chasity Campbell is co-owner of Bodyworks Spa in Conway. The full-service spa offers a variety of massages, myofascial release therapy, facials, body treatments and more. Abundant Wellness is the health side of Bodyworks Spa. Its focus is helping clients manage their weight and various health conditions, adopt healthy and sustainable

“I guide women to become the healthy, happy people they are meant to be by counseling them on nutrition, lifestyle choices, parenting, stress reduction, spirituality and self-love,” she said. Bodyworks Spa offers free massages to patients undergoing cancer treatment at CARTI. Campbell also offers pro bono counseling to those with cancer to help them make healthy lifestyle choices that will contribute to their healing. “I help ladies with cancer make the changes they need to have a good quality of life while getting treatment,” she said. “I want them to find peace and have guidance

HONOREES < 3D


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HONOREES from 2D on nutrition while they focus on healing.”

Tess Fletcher, Children’s Advocacy Alliance Tess Fletcher is executive director of Children’s Advocacy Alliance, an independent nonprofit that provides guidance, treatment and support for children who are the victims of abuse and neglect. The Children’s Advocacy Alliance oversees both the Central Arkansas Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) and the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) 20th Judicial District program. Fletcher created the CAC program so that children alleged to have been abused physically or sexually could have access to a single, childfriendly place to tell their story. In the last year, Fletcher has led the effort to expand CAC services to include onsite mental health and sexual abuse exams for children. Fletcher has also developed the staff capacity to recruit and train community volunteers for the CASA program. “I strive to lead by example,” she said. “I’m passionate about the mission of our organization and don’t ask others to do something I’m unwilling to do myself.” Fletcher’s hope is that she has empowered the women she works with

Faulkner County Business Journal

to become leaders themselves. One of her favorite quotes is from Gandhi: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

for women – is a struggle. To combat this, she uses author Suzy Welch’s “10/10/10” principle to determine how to spend her limited time.

“I challenge myself daily to leave the world better than I found it,” she said. “My hope is that I equip others with the tools necessary to go out and make a difference themselves.”

“Before I make a major decision, I ask myself: How will I feel about it 10 minutes from now? How about 10 months from now? How about 10 years from now? That helps me pull back and think in a broader perspective.”

Lori Ross Scroggin, Conway Regional Health System Lori Ross Scroggin serves as chief development officer for Conway Regional Health System. Under her leadership, the medical center has received more advertising and public relations awards on both the state and national levels than virtually any other hospital in Arkansas. “I’ve had the privilege of telling the story of how our amazing staff members are capable of providing outstanding care – so much so that Conway Regional is the Most Preferred Hospital for Having a Baby,” Scroggin said. “Patients start their families at our hospital, and they trust our staff and physicians with what is most precious to them – their loved ones.” As a hospital administrator, mother of three daughters and board member for a number of community organizations, Scroggin admits that finding true balance between one’s work and personal life – especially

Sunday, November 16, 2014 — 3D

E-Z Mart CEO to headline Women in Business event

Scroggin desires that her biggest impact on other women will begin with her daughters. “I hope my most valuable contribution will result in three well-adjusted, grown women who will put God first, love their families, contribute to their communities, and never quit learning,” she said. “I try to teach others when I have learned. And I try to share when I have gained. I hope other women might be inspired to step up to serve and welcome the opportunity to stretch their boundaries and give back of their talents.”

About Women in Business To reserve a table at the Women in Business Awards luncheon on Dec. 9, please visit ConwayChamber.org and click on the Women in Business icon. For more information, contact Mary Margaret Satterfield at Mary@ ConwayArkansas.org or 501-932-5412.

Sonja Yates Hubbard The CEO of one of the largest, privately held convenience store chains in the U.S. will be the guest speaker at the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce’s third annual Women in Business event, scheduled for 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 9, at the Conway Expo Center and Fairgrounds. Sonja Yates Hubbard has been the top executive at E-Z Mart Stores for more than 16 years and has worked for the Texas-based chain for 27 years, not counting her summer stints when she was in high school and college. Her father, Jim

Yates, founded the company in 1970 with the opening of the first store in Nashville, Arkansas. E-Z Mart Stores has been listed among Fortune 500’s “Largest Privately Held Businesses,” ranked in Working Woman’s “Top 500 WomenOwned Businesses,” and is positioned annually in the “Top 10 of Arkansas’s Largest Privately Held Companies” list produced by Arkansas Business. Hubbard, a certified public accountant, served as assistant controller, controller and chief financial officer of the family owned and operated business be-

fore becoming CEO. Prior to beginning her career at E-Z Mart, Sonja worked in public accounting where she performed audit, tax and bookkeeping services for a variety of organizations. In 1999, the Arkansas Society of CPAs named Sonja “Outstanding CPA in Business & Industry.” Her alma mater, the University of Arkansas, named her the “2009 Accountant of the Year in Industry/Government.” Hubbard has also been recognized as a “Woman of Influence” in the food industry by the Griffin Report and received the “Texarkana Regional Arts & Humanities Hero Award for Leadership.” Hubbard is currently serving as a member of the board of directors for the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and previously served as director and president of the Bank’s Little Rock branch. In 2009-2010, she served as chairwoman for the National Association of Convenience Stores, an organization that represents the nation’s 152,000 stores and its members. The Women in Business Awards luncheon will honor four Outstanding Women in Business and one Diamond Achievement Award winner. To reserve a table at the December luncheon, please visit ConwayChamber.org and click on the Women in Business icon.


4D — Sunday, November 16, 2014

cover story

Faulkner County Business Journal

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What’s old is new again Covington Companies Changes the Face of Conway

Anyone who has spent time in Conway has likely seen the Covington name displayed on signage for commercial development, industrial property, and retail and office space throughout the city. These signs, however visible, understate the family’s nearly 100year impact on Conway’s commercial landscape. George Ed Covington Sr. is at the helm of Covington Companies, a four-generation, familyowned business based in Conway. Covington Roofing & Sheet Metal, Covington Properties, Covington Construction & Equipment, and Covington Classic Auto Sales comprise Covington Companies. Although each business serves a distinct purpose, they all have one thing in common: a dedication to giving the past a future.

Company History and Leadership

George Allison Covington established Covington Roofing & Sheet Metal in 1923 at 1053 Front Street. The company specializes in industrial and commercial roofing. His son, George William Covington, purchased the company in 1954, and George Ed Covington Sr. assumed the leadership role from his father in 1978. Mr. Covington Sr. is now chairman of Covington Roofing & Sheet Metal, and his oldest son, George Ed Covington Jr., became president in 2005. “The roofing business has been around for a little over 90 years and is the foundation of our company,” Mr. Covington said. “We’ve been in the same location since the beginning and are the oldest company on Front Street.” Under George Covington Sr.’s leadership, Covington Properties, Covington Construction & Equipment, and Covington Classic Auto Sales became part of the Covington family enterprise. All three of

Covington Properties purchased a building off Dave Ward Drive from IC Corporation and is in the process of transforming the space into a multi-use, climate controlled facility that will be available for lease.

his children are partners in the company; Jason Covington is president of Covington Construction & Equipment, and Stephanie Covington, a real estate agent, oversees Covington Classic Auto Sales. “Ours is an interesting business in that the entire family works for the company business,” Mr. Covington said. “My daughterin-law, Brandi, works here and so does my wife, Janette. Everybody has a hand in what we do.”

Company Expansion

George Covington Sr. began purchasing and redeveloping commercial property in the 1980s, which was the company’s first foray into real estate. He established Covington Properties in 1983. This new venture not only led to increased exposure for the family business but also created more job opportunities for employees whose livelihood was dependent upon the weather. “On rainy days, our roofers would tell me, ‘Boss, I have to work. I have to do something so I can feed my family.’ So we started buying buildings,” Mr. Covington said. “When the roofers couldn’t work outside, they were able to get hours by completing indoor de-

molition and paint jobs. That was one reason we wanted to keep so much property. To this day, when the weather isn’t cooperating, our employees have the option to work on other projects. Otherwise, they can have the day off.” With more than 1.4 million square feet of lease space, Covington Properties is among the top 10 largest real estate management companies in central Arkansas. The company offers new building construction, but its focus is restoring, renovating, and repurposing property. Covington Properties specializes in commercial development, industrial property, retail space, office space, and loft apartments. Award-winning renovations include Harkrider Plaza, The Old Gin, Covington South, Covington Midtown, and Covington United Center. “If you’ve got a building in Conway that’s in bad shape, we’re usually the ones who will take it off your hands and tackle it,” Mr. Covington said. Another focus of Covington Companies’ work is “changing the face of Conway,” particularly in the historic downtown. George Covington Sr. grew up downtown, so revitalizing the area is

his passion. He established Covington Construction & Equipment in 1993 out of the desire to renovate some of downtown Conway’s worst eyesores. Mr. Covington was also instrumental in establishing the Conway Downtown Partnership in 2001 and served as its chairman for 12 years. He recently received the organization’s inaugural Downtown Award of Distinction for his leadership in the Downtown Partnership and his contributions to downtown. “Our company has emphasized improving downtown Conway and other older parts of town,” Mr. Covington said. “Rather than dispose of things and fill up a landfill, we like to redevelop and repurpose as much as possible. It’s all economics; you don’t build buildings to be disposable. Some of it you may not like, and some of it you may not be able to use, but you do not have to trash the whole thing. That’s throwing away history.” Mr. Covington said he has only demolished two buildings since he has been in business. One of those was his own office. “Our company has always been in the location where it is today, but we had to rebuild. Several

years ago, our insurance company noticed a wall was leaning on one side and approached the city. The city determined that the building was in bad shape. So I had to tear down my own office,” he said. “When we rebuilt, we customized the building around our company’s needs, modernized it to be more energy efficient, and gave it a historic feel. The door is custommade out of walnut from Mountain View, Arkansas, and the glass came from an old house in Benton. “People kid me about tearing down my own office,” he laughed. “I wouldn’t have done it if wasn’t mandated.” Buildings are not the only things Mr. Covington likes old. “I like old buildings, I like old furniture, and I like old cars. I collect old cars and also enjoy collecting and restoring old toys.” Mr. Covington turned his car collection hobby into a business that attracts antique car enthusiasts to Conway from across the nation. Covington Classic Auto Sales opened four years ago and is located at 1160 Collier Drive in Conway. Its hours of operation are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.; it closes for lunch from noon to 1 p.m. The museum-style showroom features antique and limited edition models of automobiles available for purchase. Pop art and décor adorn the walls, some of which is for sale. “I’m intrigued by those things that people don’t do anymore, especially when it comes to craftsmanship,” Mr. Covington said. “You have to spend time doing things you like. Collecting and restoring antiques, classic cars and toys is my favorite pastime.” Making old things new again is what drives Mr. Covington. Conway has benefited as a result.


6D — Sunday, November 16, 2014

Faulkner County Business Journal

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EDITORIAL

The people have spoken

If you didn’t notice, Faulkner County was a focal point in this most recent election. For more than a year, airwaves, mailboxes and inboxes were overflowing with info and innuendo. Now the people have had their day to speak. What did they say? It depends who you ask. About 60% of Faulkner County voters preferred republican candidates. Almost 40% of Faulkner County voters wanted democratic candidates. The rest just couldn’t resist voting for a guy named Elvis (or other, perhaps more credentialed, third party candidates). What do the results of this election tell us about

Conway and Faulkner County’s future? Not much. That’s because no political party can rightly take credit for the many successes our community has enjoyed. Our proudest achievements have occurred when all members of the community were working together, motivated by issues and agendas that united rather than divided us. None of this is to say that the most recent elections were unimportant or that the results were insignificant. There are a number of serious issues that our newly elected officials will confront almost immediately—evolving health care programs, crowded pris-

ons, education policy to name a few. The victors deserve our best wishes and need our support as they begin the awesome task of governing. Our own awesome task, as neighbors, is to reunite and work together on the issues that affect us most—our schools, our neighborhoods, our local economy. These local issues can be pleasantly apolitical if we let them. Tomorrows best ideas may well come from someone we disagree with on binary national issues…and why wouldn’t they. The campaign is over. Let the work begin. By our count, we have about six months before this all starts over again.

Chamber Membership Maximizer scheduled for January

top residential home sales, november 25

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membership,” said Aaron Throneberry, director of sales. “These events are a great way to kickstart a new member’s involvement in the Chamber, and ultimately, the Conway business community.” There is no cost to attend a Membership Maximizer, but reservations are required. Visit ConwayChamber.org or call 501-327-7788 by Friday, Jan. 9, to reserve a place.

Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace seeks input from small businesses 266

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work and ask questions over a catered lunch. Aaron Throneberry, director of sales, said the luncheon is ideal for employees of businesses new to Chamber and new employees who work for current Chamber-member businesses. “Membership Maximizers give our members a glimpse into the workings of the Chamber and information about how they can get the most out of their

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Employees of Chamber-member businesses are invited to attend a Membership Maximizer on Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015. During a Membership Maximizer, a Chamber representative provides an overview of the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce’s history and mission as well as an explanation of member benefits. The informal setting gives attendees an opportunity to net-

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Price.......... Address............... Bed/Bath........ Subdivision.............SQFT....... $/SQ FT.......Built $380,000........ 505 W Ridge Drive...........4/5.5.......................West Ridge Subdivision....... 4250...........$91.74..............1990 $357,000........ 1950 Royal Drive............4/3.5.......................Royal Oaks.......................... 3814...........$99.13..............1994 $302,500........ 5125 Quarry....................4/3..........................Fieldstone........................... 2920...........$106.76............2006 $280,000........ 4830 Canal Place............4/2.5.......................Westin Park......................... 2863...........$100.94............2006 $265,900........ 525 Fieldstone................4/2.5.......................Fieldstone........................... 2550...........$104.27............2005

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ketplace board voted to launch a state-based small business health insurance exchange (SHOP) in 2015, offering coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2016. The Marketplace is soliciting input from small businesses across Arkansas (100 employees or less) as it seeks to build the capabilities necessary to serve them. Each business that

participates will have a chance to win a $1,000 donation made in their name to the charity of their choice. Additionally, if the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce has at least 50 member companies participate, it will receive a $1000 donation to assist in business support efforts. The online survey is available at www.cicerogroup.com/ surveyahim.


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Faulkner County Business Journal

“Shop Small” merchandise available

EconomyGlance Unemployment Rate

Hotel Sales

September Seasonally Adjusted US................................................5.9% Arkansas......................................6.2% Not Seasonally Adjusted US................................................5.7% Arkansas......................................5.7% Faulkner County ......................... 5.1% Conway........................................4.9% Sales Tax Collections Conway* August 2014................................ $1,972,633 2013................................ $1,914,161 Percent Change 3.1% Year to Date (August) 2014..............................$15,139,478 2013..............................$15,250,628 Percent Change -0.7% Annual 2013..............................$23,235,891 2012..............................$22,944,163 Percent Change 1.3% *Tax Rate 1.75% Faulkner County* August 2014................................... $761,772 2013................................... $712,406 Percent Change 6.9%

September 2014................................ $1,509,345 2013................................ $1,412,945 Percent Change 6.8% Year to Date (September) 2014..............................$15,000,890 2013..............................$14,752,070 Percent Change 1.7%% Annual Sales 2013..............................$18,556,911 2012..............................$18,683,676 Percent Change -0.7%

Year to Date (August)

Annual 2013................................... $228,275 2012................................... $207,537 2011.................................. $204,387 Percent Change 2013-2012 10.0% *Not including land or lot improvements Average Square Footage* Year to date (October) 2014.......................................... 2,904 2013.......................................... 3,000 Percent Change -3.2% Annual 2013.......................................... 3,002 2012.......................................... 2,910 2011.......................................... 2,814 Percent Change 2013-2012 3.2% Average Construction Cost Per Square Foot* Year to Date (October) 2014........................................$74.66 2013........................................$76.51 Percent Change -2.4% Annual 2013........................................$76.04

2014................................ $5,696,228 2013................................ $5,667,225 Percent Change 0.5% Annual 2013................................ $8,588,835 2012................................ $8,465,686 Percent Change 1.5% *Tax Rate 0.5%

Restaurant Sales*

September 2014..............................$14,739,160 2013..............................$13,573,359 Percent Change 8.6% Year to Date (September) 2014............................$131,181,628 2013............................$124,021,797 Percent Change % 5.8 Annual Sales 2013............................$164,989,586 2012............................$161,318,563 Percent Change 2.3% *Including mixed drink sales

Conway Building Permits Single Family Homes Year to Date (October) 2014...................................95 Permits 2013.................................126 Permits Percent Change -24.6% Annual 2013.................................147 Permits 2012.................................186 Permits 2011.................................153 Permits Percent Change 2013-2012 -21.0% Average Construction Cost* Year to Date (October) 2014................................... $216,826 2013................................... $226,627 Percent Change -4.3%%

Sunday, November 16, 2014 — 7D

2012..........................................$71.33 2011..........................................$72.64 Percent Change 8i2013-2012 6.6%% * Total under roof

Lottery Sales

Faulkner County October 2014..................................$1,170,000 2013..................................$1,228,040 Percent Change -4.7% Year to Date (October) 2014............................... $11,855,857 2013............................... $13,309,238 Percent Change -10.9% Annual 2013............................... $17,038,277 2012............................... $16,943,909 Percent Change 0.6% Total State October 2014............................... $33,918,964 2013............................... $33,037,800 Percent Change 2.7% Year to Date (October) 2014.............................$337,457,734 2013.............................$366,658,495 Percent Change -8.0% Annual 2013.............................$432,932,799 2012 ............................$452,245,215 Percent Change -4.3%

Natural Gas

Severance Tax Distribution Conway Year to Date (November) 2014.....................................$340,198 2013.....................................$255,027 Percent Change 33.4% Annual 2013.....................................$199,265 2012.....................................$149,833 Percent Change 70.2% Faulkner County Year to Date (November) 2014.....................................$277,131 2013.....................................$207,002 Percent Change 33.9% Annual 2013.....................................$224,455 2012.....................................$131,418 Percent Change 70.8% Information provided by Pulse of Conway

Laci Booth, owner of The Flower Booth, submitted her business’s story to the Be Vocal Buy Local website and received Shop Small merchandise, courtesy of American Express.

Earlier this year, the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce launched a citywide initiative called “Be Vocal Buy Local” to encourage residents to do business in Conway. The campaign outlines three reasons why it is important to buy locally. First, sales taxes from purchases made in Conway support city services, such as police and fire departments; parks; and streets. Second, patronizing local businesses keeps them in operation and retains jobs. Finally, local, independent shops are what make Conway distinct and vibrant. This holiday shopping season, the Chamber and the Conway Downtown Partnership are serving as “Neighborhood Champions” for the nationwide Shop Small Movement. Small Business Saturday, founded in 2010 by American Express, is always the Saturday after Thanksgiv-

ing, which falls on Nov. 29 this year. As Neighborhood Champions, the organizations received an assortment of “Shop Small” merchandise from American Express. To distribute the merchandise fairly, the Chamber is offering a bundle of Shop Small promotional items to the first 25 member businesses who submit their business’s story to BeVocalBuyLocal.org. Items include reusable shopping bags, a door mat, balloons, pens, stickers, buttons, a bandana for pets, a window decal, and a $25 American Express gift card to use when shopping local. Each business that submits a story will be featured on the Be Vo-

cal Buy Local website. The website also includes a resources page where business owners can download Be Vocal Buy Local stickers, table tents, personalized posters and a T-shirt order form year-round. Business owners and company representatives can also request up to three full-color posters from the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce during regular business hours. Business owners can take the Be Vocal Buy Local message online by embedding a badge on their company’s website and using a provided template for social media activity. Chambermember businesses can upload coupons to the Chamber website, which links to BeVocalBuyLocal.org.


Profile for Conway Area Chamber of Commerce

2014-11 Faulkner County Business Journal  

November 2014 Faulkner County Business Journal – Covington Companies changes the face of Conway.

2014-11 Faulkner County Business Journal  

November 2014 Faulkner County Business Journal – Covington Companies changes the face of Conway.