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Council approves business association agreement

by Keith Bryant | April 28, 2021 at 5:28 a.m.

The Bella Vista City Council unanimously approved a $59,000 contract with the Bella Vista Business Association to help promote local business.

The funds are split between 2021 and 2022 at $29,500 for each year to help provide for events, campaigns and services in Bella Vista this year and next year.

Mayor Peter Christie said the agreement includes a series of key performance indicators the association will be required to provide a progress report on each 90 days.

These indicators are to measure progress on a variety of activities, including a new business association website, building membership, business fair events in 2021 and 2022, networking opportunities for members, marketing campaigns and other items.

Councilmember Steve Bourke, who helped build this agreement, said he believes it is a good use of the city's budget, which was bolstered by Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES act funds.

This should help local businesses, which have seen a very slow year, get some momentum back, he said.

"It has been a very challenging time for the Bella Vista business community," Bourke said. "This is a way for us to make an investment and kind of re-energize."

Association president Dawn Cross addressed the council in support of this measure.

The past year has been extremely hard on local businesses as well as the nonprofit association, she said.

Cross said she was excited to see the council considering this measure.

The association has provided advertising, business fairs and other aid to its members over multiple decades, she said.

"We have provided tangible benefit to our membership as well as the local community," Cross said.

Councilmember Fowler said he wasn't sure where the $29,500 per year number came from and that the council may need to reconsider increasing the amount down the road.

"Things are a little more expensive than you think sometimes," he said.

During the meeting, the mayor recognized Fire Chief Steve Sims for his work in the effort to vaccinate Bella Vistans.

"Many, many, many hours were spent with a team he pulled together," Christie said.

The effort was recognized not only by the city but by the state. The chief received a commendation from Governor Asa Hutchinson.

"Well deserved," Christie added.

Estimates suggest more than 10,000 individuals in Bella Vista have been vaccinated, he said, and the effort has been building steam.

At this point, vaccine clinics are seeing more than 1,000 patients per day, he said.

The council also approved two rezoning requests, a paving contract, a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area grant to reimburse the police department for overtime while working on the drug task force, three appointments to the tree advisory board and amending the city's 2021 budget to recognize sales and use tax funds and appropriate said funds for designated projects.

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