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Monday, Jan. 19, 2015

CITY'S HIGHLIGHTS

Shreveport Chamber honors business leader, successes

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The Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce will host its annual meeting Jan. 29 at 11:45 a.m. at East Ridge Country Club. The luncheon will feature highlights from 2014 and the road ahead for the new year. 

“The annual meeting is a big celebration and gathering when we get all of the major contributors of the chamber together and the folks who want to celebrate what our area is doing and hear what we have planned for the next year,” Michael Doughty, vice president of membership development and marketing, said. “They get together every year in January and we sit down to talk about the successes of the last year and what we as the chamber have accomplished so that our members know and are up to speed. We also go into what our focus is going to be for the coming year and talk about what our plans are for the legislature, for our local domestic policy and the different programs and events we will plan throughout the year.”

The key feature of the event will be the chamber’s honoring of a community member that has impacted the area.

“We also take this opportunity to celebrate a local business person, usually a major industry leader and someone who’s made an impact on our community,” Doughty said. “This year we’re celebrating Ivan Smith. The great thing about Ivan is that he’s regionally focused, he’s done a lot for our area – not just Shreveport but the whole northwest region of east Texas and Northern Arkansas corridor.”

Smith and his family moved to this area in 1953, where Smith graduated from Byrd High School and then from Hardin Simmons University in 1968. Smith’s business has over 42 locations built over the last 40 years after buying the business from his father in 1976.

Smith previously served for nine years on the Hardin Simmons Board of Trustees. 

Additionally, Smith sponsored Mac McCarter in his second year of starting Community Renewal – which was later adopted by Hardin Simmons University. He has also been active in various nonprofit organizations concerning the sick and less fortunate.

Some of Smith’s community involvement highlights include serving two terms on the Volunteers of America Board as treasurer, two terms on the Goodwill Industries Board of Directors and four years on the board for the Highland Center. He served on the board of directors of Commercial  National Bank and is serving on the Retail Merchants Association Board where he has been for 15 years. Smith also spent time in Zimbabwe, Africa, in 1984 rebuilding missionary housing in the bush country.

Ivan Smith Furniture has received numerous awards over the years including the J. Pat Beaird Industry of the Year Award from the chamber and a Torch Award from the Better Business Bureau. Smith himself has also received numerous humanitarian and hall of fame awards.  “The committee [from the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce] that chooses the annual honoree usually picks someone who has invested into our region and has contributed to raising the standard of living in our area,” Doughty said.

The chamber provides a variety of services, and Doughty said, they are based on the needs of the members.

“When new people come to the chamber and ask what we do, I always like to ask them, ‘what would you like us to do? Tell me what your needs are and I’ll tell you how we can fit them,’” he said. “The chamber does different things for different members. For the people who need legislature advocacy, such as the manufacturers, major industrial groups and large employers – they really need representation down at the legislature to make sure the representatives of our area know what the interests are. It’s great for a representative democracy to have the voice of the business community heard.

“What we do for our smaller business is offer networking for various different purposes,” he said. “You might be a small shop that sells good, and need to attract customers. That’s where our [public relations] comes in with the newsletters and social media and different events we put on to gain exposure, but aside from that there is way to network for service-based groups who need those big clients, who are in the chamber. Coming to our mixers and our events you [get the opportunity to network] as well as access to our directory. If you want a voice in the chamber, all you have to do is speak up.”

One of the successes of 2014 that will be highlighted is Partners in Education, a program that  has brought Caddo Superintendent Dr. Lamar Goree Jr. together with the chamber in order to address needs of local schools and what resources are available. 

The annual meeting will also offer the presentation of additional awards to other community members including the Barksdale Eagle Award. For information, call 677-2500 or go to www.shreveportchamber.org.

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