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The 11 full-time employees at the Children’s Advocacy Alliance wear blue in observance of Child Abuse Prevention Month. They are positioned in front of the Tree of Hope at the Children’s Advocacy Center. Each leaf was colored by one of the 2,000 children who have used the CAC’s services since October 2010.

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Seminar to inform central Arkansas companies about doing business in Asia

The Arkansas District Export Council invites companies in central Arkansas to attend the “Doing Business in Asia” seminar in Little Rock on May 2. This seminar covers what Arkansas companies need to know about doing business in Asia. Special attention will be paid to India, the fastest growing economy in 2018.  This seminar is ideal for export operations personnel, those in marketing and sales management or logistics, and anyone who wishes to learn more about cultural nuances of doing business in Asia and exporting to Asian countries.   The following topics will be covered: • Doing Business in India • Trade Regulations & Legal Issues • Cultural Competence • Political & Economic Environments • Opportunities for Trade • Trade under Trump Administration  • Exporters’ Experience of Trade with Asia

The key speaker is Paul Frost, a commercial diplomat in the U.S. Commercial Service, with a background in international credit risk management, trade finance, commercial banking, and foreign direct investment. Paul served the last two and a half years at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi and is currently scheduled to be posted at the U.S. Embassy in China. The other presenters are international trade practitioners and members of the Arkansas District Export Council (ArDEC), a group of private-sector individuals appointed by the Secretary of Commerce to provide mentoring on exporting. Some of these presenters have extensive experience with doing business in Asia.  The event will take place at the Arkansas Capital Corporation Group (200 River Market Ave., #400, Little Rock) from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on May 2. The registration fee includes lunch and is

$79 for one person, $129 for two people from the same company, and $159 for three people from the same company. All companies are required to register upfront, however, your business could qualify for a federal grant through the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) from the World Trade Center Arkansas and the Small Business Administration. Contact Trish Watkins at plwatki@uark.edu or 479-4184827 to learn if your business qualifies. Online registration is available at arkansasexport.com/events/doingbusiness-in-asia. If you have any questions about this event, please contact the Arkansas District Export Council at ardistrictexportcouncil@gmail.com.  The Arkansas District Export Council is a private, nonprofit organization, which brings together experienced international business people who provide support, advice, and assistance to Arkansas companies interested in entering into or expanding into international markets.


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UACCM receives prototype equipment from Snap-on MORRILTON, Ark. – The automotive technology service program at the University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton is receiving new equipment thanks to its partnership with Snap-on Tools. The equipment adds to a collection inside UACCM’s Workforce Training Center, helping students learn the latest automotive technology and join a high-demand job market. UACCM received the equipment from John Bean, a subsidiary of Snap-on Tools, either from purchasing or borrowing as part of a loan program. UACCM’s most recent acquisition is a John Bean T5745 tire and wheel service machine, the newest instrument of its kind on the market. Along with a John Bean wheel balancing machine that will arrive in the coming weeks, Snap-on will rotate these new machines in UACCM’s automotive

service laboratory with new prototypes. Howard West, an auto technology instructor at UACCM, calls this equipment state-of-the-art. “The T5745 allows for student exposure to modern tire and wheel service,” he said. “Both of these technologically advanced tools, made by

Snap-on, are essential for training student technicians on how to perform suspension, and tire and wheel service more effectively. Students preparing for entry-level positions will be more capable when entering into the automotive repair trade after experiencing training on this new equipment.” The prototypes come just months after UACCM purchased an advanced John Bean V3400 3-D aligner from Snap-on, allowing students more opportunities in the future to train on equipment found in fully-stocked automotive shops. Instructors hope that exposing students to new equipment offers them an edge in the job market. “Original equipment manufacturer dealers, franchise owners and independent shops can all benefit from hiring our students due to the advanced training provided by our automotive instructors using these new tools,” West said.

UACCM hosts high school welding competition MORRILTON, Ark. – The University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton is opening its welding facilities to high school students by hosting competitions, a move designed to encourage students to explore in-demand fields in the state. In March, students from four high schools competed in blueprint reading, shielded metal arc welding, and gas metal arc welding at UACCM’s Workforce Training Center. The Department of Workforce Development and Community Education used the event as a trial run for future, prospective competitions. “In lieu of the FFA Practice Competition, we decided to hold a Welding Competition with high school agricultural students,” said Denise Pote, coordinator of Workforce Development and Community Education. “For our first year, we wanted to keep participation at a minimum and to limit

From left to right: Grant Morgan of Bigelow High School, Colt Ridenour of Western Yell County High School, and Mahalie Adair of Western Yell County High School.

registration, so we invited only five schools.” With UACCM instructors serving as judges, three young winners were selected among the crop of welders from Shirley, Bigelow, Wonderview, Western Yell County and Nemo Vista high schools. With prizes

of welding accessories, the winners were Colt Ridenour of Western Yell County High School, first place; Grant Morgan of Bigelow High School, second place; and Mahalie Adair of Western Yell County High School, third place. These competitions are capable to being an asset in the state, as it provides opportunities for students looking for highpaying careers without getting a four-year college degree. “UACCM’s primary goal for this was to bring students to our campus where they and their high school instructors could meet our faculty and learn about programs, expectations, and possible career choices. It was an opportunity for students to see how valuable skilled trades are and to find an area in which they can excel even if they do not feel that college is for them,” Pote said.


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Workplace Wonders honorees named

Advantage Service Company

Teressa Bollinger

Workplace Wonders, an event organized by the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce and presented by Stoby’s and PattiCakes Bakery, took place Tuesday, April 23, from 8:30 to 10 a.m. at Brewer-Hegeman Conference Center on the campus of the University of Central Arkansas. UCA’s Division of Outreach and Community Engagement was the host partner, and Klaasmeyer Construction was a platinum sponsor. Formerly called the Administrative Professionals Awards, the awards breakfast has been renamed to reflect the addition of paraprofessionals and service providers to the awards categories. Tacos 4 Life was the awards sponsor.

Andrea Moore

Greg Hogan

The 2019 Outstanding Administrative Professionals are Teressa Bollinger, University of Central Arkansas Office of Student Life; Andrea Moore, Conway Regional Health System; and Felicia Rogers, City of Conway. Administrative professionals include, but are not limited to, administrative support staff, executive assistants, office and facility managers, office clerks, and receptionists. Greg Hogan of Hope and Compassion Ministries is the 2019 Outstanding Paraprofessional. Paraprofessionals include paralegals; instruction assistants; direct-care workers; and other paraprofessionals in fields such as education,

Felicia Rogers

accounting, and engineering. A panel of chamber executives from outside the state of Arkansas selected the Outstanding Administrative Professionals and Outstanding Paraprofessional. After an online voting process that was open to the public, Advantage Service Company was named the 2019 Outstanding Service Provider. This category was open to landscapers and lawn maintenance; heating, ventilation, and air conditioning providers; technology support; staffing agencies; and similar professions that are considered service providers.


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April is Child Abuse Prevention Month Children’s Advocacy Alliance provides hope, justice for abused and neglected children

For Tess Fletcher, the work is personal. The Children’s Advocacy Alliance executive director began her career fighting on behalf of abused and neglected children as a volunteer through CASA, or CourtAppointed Special Advocates. She pursued the opportunity to represent children’s best interests in court because she had family members who were sexually abused as children and believed they did not receive the justice they deserved. “From that point forward, I knew that when I got older, I wanted to work or volunteer for an organization that helped kids,” Fletcher said. “I found CASA and volunteered for a couple years before becoming volunteer coordinator for the program.” In 2008, CASA of the 20th Judicial District merged with the Central Arkansas Children’s Advocacy Center to form the Children’s Advocacy Alliance and Fletcher was named executive director. Together, the organizations provide “hope, healing, and a voice for justice for abused and neglected children” in Faulkner, Van Buren, Searcy, Conway, and Perry counties. “Thankfully, the boards for CASA and the CAC had the foresight to join together to help us better serve the child from the initial investigation of abuse to their placement in a safe, permanent home,” Fletcher said. “Through this partnership, we’re able to serve the same demographic while sharing resources and expenses.” CASA of the 20th Judicial District CASA recruits and trains local advocates to stand up for abused and neglected children in Faulkner, Van Buren, and Searcy counties. After completing 30 hours of training, these

advocates become sworn officers of the court and are appointed a case. To make objective recommendations to the court on behalf of the child, the CASA advocate explores the child’s background and assesses their situation, becoming the “eyes and ears” for the judge. Their duty is to focus on the child’s best interests and express the child’s needs and wishes. The CASA advocate stays with the case until the child is in a safe and permanent home, providing consistency and stability in a time of turmoil. In 2018 alone, CASA’s 68 volunteer advocates represented 184 children in Faulkner, Van Buren, and Searcy counties. A CASA advocate is appointed only one case at a time. CASA coordinator Tracie Cadiente, CASA recruiter/trainer Heather Laferte, and CASA supervisors Jessica Hess and Jasmin Joseph recruit, screen, train, and supervise volunteers to work within the court system on behalf of children. “The CASA advocates are at the heart of the program and provide stability for kids who are in foster care,” Fletcher said. “We could not do this work without them.” Children’s Advocacy Center The Children’s Advocacy Center brings together a team of specially trained professionals who evaluate and investigate cases of child abuse. Fletcher explained that the Children’s Advocacy Center conducts the initial investigation of abuse, putting it at the start of the justice-seeking process for kids who have been abused. On-site medical exams and mental health services are also available at the CAC. All of these services are

conducted at no cost to the families. “When a call comes to the Child Abuse Hotline, an investigator will contact the agency to set up a forensic interview at the CAC,” Fletcher said. “Once the family is there for the forensic interview, they not only receive that service but are also assigned a family advocate who works with them to provide crisis intervention, support services, and case management.” Karli Potratz is the forensic interviewer at the Children’s Advocacy Center and Lacy Taylor is the family advocate. Michelle DuVall is an education specialist, providing information on reporting child abuse and maltreatment to children and adults in schools, churches, and other organizations. Courtney McPherson is the mental health therapist for the agency. On the wall of the CAC is a floor-to-ceiling illustration of a tree with more than 2,000 colorful leaves positioned on the tree’s branches and trailing along the CAC’s walls. Each leaf was colored by a child who has received the CAC’s services. When development coordinator Leia Smith was looking for volunteer opportunities with area nonprofits while she was a student at the University of Central Arkansas, she knew the Children’s Advocacy Alliance was the best fit for her altruism when she saw the tree at its Children’s Advocacy Center. “I volunteered at 50 nonprofits in central Arkansas that served either the homeless, kids, or veterans,” Smith said. “The Children’s Advocacy Alliance is the one that stuck.” Like Fletcher, Smith ultimately became part of the staff after serving as volunteer, working first in outreach and marketing and now in development.


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Also, like Fletcher, it’s personal for Smith, too. “My biological father abused me from birth until age 15,” she said. “Statistically, one in 10 kids will be abused by their 18th birthday. Our work will not be accomplished until we shift that from one in 10 to ‘none in 10.’” A girl named Jessica colored the first leaf on October 18, 2010. Jessica’s leaf is at the center of the tree. “The leaves are for solidarity,” Smith said. “When a child comes to the CAC, they immediately notice the tree, and Karli, our forensic interviewer, explains the meaning

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gets them a step closer to healing.” The Children’s Advocacy Alliance would like to make this partnership even better for the children and families they serve by The Need One of the benefits of having CASA and the bringing the CASA program and the CAC CAC operate under the Children’s Advocacy under one roof. “We need more space,” Fletcher said. Alliance umbrella is that children are likely to Between CASA and the CAC, the receive the services they need without being Children’s Advocacy Alliance has 11 fullhopscotched from place to place. time staff members scattered between “We’re not sending kids to intimidating buildings, to different strangers, and forcing two temporary – and cramped – spaces in downtown Conway. There is also a satellite them to relive and retell something that’s CASA location in Clinton that serves Van very personal and very traumatic,” Smith Buren and Searcy counties. said. “Talking to our trained professionals behind the leaves. That child then no longer feels like they’re alone.”

A young participant receives a hero’s welcome as he crosses the finish line at the 2019 Heroes for Hope race on April 6, a 1.31K/5K/10K race that supports the Children’s Advocacy Alliance.

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The four Faulkner County CASA employees along with three administrative employees who work for both CASA and the CAC – Fletcher, Smith, and financial coordinator Debra Lance – operate out of 1,200 square feet of space on the second and third floors of the Faulkner County Courthouse. The other four employees work directly with families in the Children’s Advocacy Center, located in a 1,632-square-foot building at 574 Locust Street. “Because we don’t have space, our employees are doubling up,” Fletcher said. We have interns on top of our staff – sometimes three and four people in an office.” Most important, the lack of space affects the Children’s Advocacy Alliance’s ability to provide coordinated guidance, treatment, and support for child victims of abuse and neglect. “Earlier this month, we had four different families in the CAC at the same time, and we had absolutely no where to put them,” Fletcher said. “We had kids there for medical exams, and we had two different families there for therapy. We literally had to put a family in the backyard because we do not have enough rooms. Thankfully the weather was nice.” Fletcher added that not having space makes it more difficult to maintain confidentiality for the families that come to the CAC. “Every family deserves to have their confidentiality upheld when they come to the CAC, and it’s really hard to maneuver that in our current facility. If we had a bigger building, we would be able to have two interview rooms to see two separate families at one time.” Fletcher said another downside of limited space is not being able to house additional staff to conduct these interviews and other services. “We desperately need to hire more staff, but we have no place for them to work.”

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How You Can Help From individual contributions through the Seeds of Hope campaign to corporate support and event sponsorships, monetary donations help the Children’s Advocacy Alliance fulfill its mission to provide hope and justice to child abuse survivors. “A dollar a month means as much to our organization as $100 or $1,000,” Fletcher said. “You don’t have to be very well off to support these kids.” It’s not only monetary support that can help the Children’s Advocacy Alliance change the lives of abused and neglected kids in the community. “We’re always in need of CASA volunteers,” Fletcher said. “And the CAC accepts donations, such as nonperishable food items, for the children who come there – from having snacks available while they wait to providing entire food boxes to those coming from families struggling with food insecurity.” Smith added that businesses can find other ways to support the Children’s Advocacy Alliance that align with the products and services that business provides. “Does your company support volunteerism among employees? If so, encourage them to volunteer at our two annual events: the Heroes for Hope race and the Festival of Chairs,” Smith said. “Businesses can also partner with us by fulfilling a specific need, such as donating lawn maintenance services

for our backyard.” Perhaps the easiest and most immediate way to help further the mission of the Children’s Advocacy Alliance is to schedule a tour of the CAC to get a firsthand look at the work the agency does. “Come walk the path of the 2,000 central Arkansas children who have used the services at the CAC, including 259 in 2018 alone and more than 70 so far this year,” Smith said. “Instead of holding your staff meeting at your office, we invite you to visit the CAC for an eye-opening tour to see how we help abused and neglected children in our community.” To schedule a tour at the Children’s Advocacy Center, contact Leia Smith at lsmith@hopeandjustice.org. To learn more about the Children’s Advocacy Alliance, including how to support the nonprofit, visit hopeandjustice.org.

Steve’s 10014776


North Metro Economy at a Glance Population US ..........................325,719,178 Arkansas .....................3,004,279 Conway ...........................65,782 Cleburne County...............25,048 Conway County................20,916 Faulkner County.............123,654 Perry County....................10,348 Van Buren County.............16,506 Unemployment Rate January-2019 Seasonally Adjusted US ..................................... 4.0% Arkansas ........................... 3.7% Not Seasonally Adjusted US ..................................... 4.4% Arkansas............................ 4.5% Conway.............................. 3.7% Cleburne County ................ 5.9% Conway County ................. 5.4% Faulkner County ................ 3.8% Perry County ..................... 5.4% Van Buren County .............. 6.6% Bank Deposits June Conway County 2018...........................$1,827,728 2017...........................$1,686,727 Percent Change ............... 8.36% Cleburne County 2018..............................$554,248 2017..............................$524,244 Percent Change ............... 5.72%

Conway County 2018..............................$358,473 2017..............................$382,665 Percent Change ..............-6.32% Faulkner County 2018...........................$2,192,595 2017...........................$2,052,122 Percent Change ............... 6.85% Perry County 2018................................$72,986 2017................................$71,596 Percent Change ............... 1.94% Van Buren County 2018..............................$276,171 2017..............................$277,646 Percent Change ..............-0.53%

Faulkner County 2019.............................$717,874 2018.............................$743,972 Percent Change...............-3.51% Tax Rate ........................... 0.50% Perry County 2019.............................$124,682 2018.............................$132,622 Percent Change...............-5.99% Tax Rate ........................... 2.50% Van Buren County 2019.............................$311,566 2018.............................$293,697 Percent Change................ 6.08% Tax Rate ........................... 2.00%

Restaurant Sales* Year to Date (December) Sales & Use Tax Collections Conway March 2018......................$199,870,085 Conway 2017......................$184,557,360 2019..........................$2,359,290 Percent Change................ 8.30% 2018..........................$2,036,243 *Includes mixed drink sales Percent Change.............. 15.86% Tax Rate ......................... 2.125% Hotel Sales Year to Date (December) Cleburne County Conway 2019.............................$442,872 2018........................$17,985,410 2018.............................$436,714 2017........................$18,180,519 Percent Change................ 1.41% Percent Change...............-1.07% Tax Rate ......................... 1.625% Residential Building Conway County Permits 2019.............................$419,322 Year to Date (March) 2018.............................$390,113 Conway Percent Change................ 7.49% 2019........................................60 Tax Rate ........................... 1.75% 2018........................................35 Percent Change.............. 71.43%

Residential Units Sold** (New and Existing) Year to Date (March) Conway 2019......................................124 2018......................................160 Percent Change ............-22.50%

Percent Change ............-24.98% Year to Date (December) Cleburne County 2018........................$89,931,072 2017........................$71,553,867 Percent Change ............. 25.68%

Conway County 2018.............................$116,294 2017...............................$99,157 Percent Change ............. 17.28%

Year to Date (December) Cleburne County 2018......................................484 2017......................................411 Percent Change ............. 17.76%

Conway County 2018........................$15,001,926 2017........................$11,898,840 Percent Change ............. 26.08%

Faulkner County 2018.............................$178,200 2017.............................$173,680 Percent Change................ 2.60%

Faulkner County 2018......................$298,306,800 2017......................$310,018,800 Percent Change ..............-3.78%

Perry County 2018.............................$123,673 2017.............................$110,031 Percent Change ............. 12.40%

Perry County 2018..........................$8,657,110 2017..........................$6,271,767 Percent Change ............. 38.03%

Van Buren County 2018.............................$102,727 2017...............................$96,871 Percent Change ............... 6.05%

Conway County 2018......................................129 2017......................................120 Percent Change ............... 7.50% Faulkner County 2018....................................1674 2017....................................1785 Percent Change ..............-6.22% Perry County 2018........................................70 2017........................................57 Percent Change ............. 22.81% Van Buren County 2018......................................239 2017......................................254 Percent Change ..............-5.91% Values of Residential Units Sold** Year to Date (March) Conway 2019........................$22,560,530 2018........................$30,072,633 

2017.............................$174,097 Percent Change ............... 6.73%

Van Buren County 2018........................$24,551,753 2017........................$24,605,234 Percent Change ..............-0.22% Average Price of Residential Units Sold** (New and Existing) Year to Date (March) Conway 2019.............................$181,940 2018.............................$187,954 Percent Change ............... -3.20% Year to Date (December) Cleburne County 2018.............................$185,808

Proud sponsor of Pulse of Conway Sources: 2012-2016 ACS 5-Year Data Profiles, Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, C2ER, Sperling’s Best Places, Arkansas Department of Finance & Administration, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Cooperative Arkansas Realtors’ Multiple Listing Services, Arkansas Realtors Association, and City of Conway. **Includes sales of residential-zoned lots


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Toad Suck Daze festival makes $130K in contributions Organizers say new attendees will be “blown away” by programming CONWAY, Ark. (April 9, 2019) – In less than one month, the 38th annual Toad Suck Daze festival will kick off in downtown Conway. Today, presenting sponsors Cherokee Nation Entertainment and First Arkansas Bank & Trust announced entertainment, expanded programming, and $130,000 in charitable contributions. Entertainment Friday night entertainment will feature country music group A Thousand Horses. Their debut single “Smoke” went all the way to No. 1 on the Billboard charts. They have landed multiple awards show nominations, most recently vying for the title of “New Vocal Duo or Group of the Year” at the 52nd annual ACM Awards. Saturday night brings three-time Grammy winner and songwriting legend Steve Earle to Conway. Earle’s hits “Copperhead Road” and “Guitar Town” launched a genre-crossing career that has spanned five decades. All festival entertainment is presented by Crain Buick GMC and Crain Kia of Conway. Expanded Tinkerfest Activities In 2018, Toad Suck Daze partnered with the Museum of Discovery to provide a Discovery Network membership to 24 central Arkansas elementary schools. The Discovery Network provides highquality professional STEM development and training opportunities to participating schools. During this year’s festival, those schools will help anchor a “Toad Suck Daze Tinkerfest” area that will double in size. Presented by Acxiom, this year’s Tinkerfest area will take up two city blocks and include these attractions: - Museum of Discovery “Awesome Science” shows, Conway Symphony Orchestra “Instrument Petting Zoo,” and interactive performances from Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre, all sponsored by Crain

Hyundai of Conway & More - PBS Kids characters sponsored by Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield - Mobile MakerSpace from the Arkansas Innovation Hub sponsored by American Management Corporation - Programming from the Conductor sponsored by Flywheel Energy - A 5,000-square-foot temporary Museum of Discovery Exhibit sponsored by Nabholz Construction - And dozens of other educational and fun stations. Contributions The Toad Suck Daze Committee presented more than $130,000 in contributions to seven area nonprofits and scholarship recipients at the Tuesday announcement: - Arkansas Discovery Network - $43,000 - Imagination Library - $30,000 (This will provide books monthly to 1,200 children

ages 0-5.) - Conway Downtown Partnership $20,000 (This pays for more than 400 hanging baskets downtown.) - Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre - $3,500 - University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton - $2,000 - Conway Symphony Orchestra - $2,000 - Red Curtain Theatre - $1,500 The committee also announced $18,000 in scholarships to seven Faulkner County students. Brad Lacy, president and CEO of the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce, says that the festival has grown far beyond its local origins. “Toad Suck Daze is an Arkansas icon that continues to grow in influence. Our sponsors are from around the state and surrounding states. Our contributions are helping kids all over Arkansas. I think families that are attending the festival for the first time will be blown away by the variety and quality of our programming.” Toad Suck Daze will take place May 3-5 in downtown Conway. For a full schedule of festival entertainment and other attractions, visit ToadSuck.org or Facebook.com/ ToadSuckDaze. About Toad Suck Daze For more than 35 years, a central Arkansas festival with a quirky name has contributed more than $1.8 million to scholarships, scholarship endowments, preschool funding, and arts education. As Arkansas’s largest festival, Toad Suck Daze attracts more than 100,000 festivalgoers of all ages to downtown Conway the first weekend of May for national and local musical entertainment, food-on-a-stick, retail and arts-and-crafts vendors, and most notably, the World Championship Toad Races. For more information about Toad Suck Daze, visit toadsuck.org.


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Profile for Conway Area Chamber of Commerce

Children's Advocacy Alliance provides hope, justice for abused and neglected children (April 2019)