Thursday, April 3, 2014

NWA Emerging Leaders Roll Out Mastermind Groups

By: Whitney Yoder
Vice-President of Development
Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce

NWA Emerging Leaders is committed to personal and professional development for emerging talent in our region.  That is evidenced by a new program rolling out in April; Legacy Mastermind Groups.  Mastermind Groups bring a combination of brainstorming, education, peer accountability, and support in a group setting to sharpen business and personal skills.  In short, belonging to a mastermind group helps you and your fellow group members grow and achieve success.  

Here are some of the great benefits that come with participating in a Mastermind Group:
  1. You’ll be part of an exclusive community, a small, tightly knit group of like-minded peers all working toward similar objectives;
  2. Advisement.  You’ll lose that feeling of being alone as a business person as the other members of the group turn into your informal advisory board;
  3. Collaboration.  You may find someone in the group who is a perfect fit for a project you’re working on.  How great would it be to find that missing person you’ve been seeking?;
  4. Extend your network.  People do business with people they know, like, and trust, and these mastermind groups are great ways to build your network by making new, trusted friends;
  5. New learning.  Even if you’ve been in your field for years and years, and are an industry expert, you’ll still learn new things from the experiences and perspectives of your new friends;
  6. Cross-promotion.  Your business will benefit as you and your group members find ways to work together and cross promote each other’s services to your respective client, customer, and vendor groups;
  7. Think bigger.  One of the greatest benefits of mastermind groups, brainstorming on a regular basis with a group of driven, intelligent people is going to make you a bigger person.  You will think bigger, take on bigger challenges, and grow into a bigger person
Mastermind groups encourage you to challenge yourself and others to set and accomplish important goals, but to be successful members have to be willing to commit, listen, and give their best to each participant.

These aren’t classes; they’re not networking groups; and they’re not coaching.  They’re simply you and a group of highly committed peers engaging to make each other better.  

In the business world, author Napoleon Hill, who wrote the famous book “Think and Grow Rich”, says mastermind groups are the basis for every great fortune, and that great power can be accumulated through no other principle.

Not everyone who joins a mastermind group wants to become rich or powerful, but Hill’s comment points to the power of what can happen when a group of committed individuals focus their energy on helping each other grow.

Groups are forming now, so to make sure you have the opportunity to get your own personal advisory board.  Currently over 100 people have signed up to participate in a group.  The program kicks-off with a luncheon on April 23, 2014.  For more information or to sign-up contact Whitney Yoder at 479-619-3197.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

RLACC Releases Community Assessment Report

By: Brad Phillips
Vice-President, Marketing Communications
Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce

The Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with the City of Rogers and the City of Lowell released to the public its Community Assessment report, a detailed examination of the Rogers-Lowell area as a place to live, work and do business.  The Assessment leverages quantitative and qualitative research conducted during Phase 1 of the six-month, four-phase strategic planning process to update the vision for a new Community Action Plan.  This Community Assessment completes phase two of the project, delivers a comprehensive overview of the trends and challenges facing Rogers-Lowell in 2014 and beyond, and within the context of residents' vision for the future and the implications of regional development.  The visioning process culminates later this year with the development of a Community Action Plan and Implementation Guidelines.

The Assessment reveals a community and region that has experienced rapid population growth, driven predominately by young couples and their children.  These families are attracted to a community that is centrally located within the region, home to relatively high quality public schools and offers comparatively affordable single-family housing.  The Assessment also reveals a place that has seen enormous growth in its Hispanic population;  residents want to ensure that Rogers doesn't become a segregated community socioeconomically along racial and ethnic lines.  Residents of all races and ethnicities indicated that they are proud of the fact that the community is welcoming and want to ensure that the community is united.  

The community is also a place that has experienced a great deal of economic transition within
a relatively resilient and growing regional economy.  Retail and professional services have emerged while manufacturing and distribution have remained a key component of the economy. Continued growth has given rise to concerns from residents about traffic, transportation and other issues.  "Residents wonder what the future of the community will hold for them, their children, and their businesses," said Raymond Burns, President/CEO of the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce.  "They wonder if the next generation will be attracted to the amenities that are currently available.  Will there be an abundant supply of young, skilled workers to support diversified economic growth?  What will Downtown Rogers look like in the future, and will it be a place that young residents want to visit?"

Market Street Services, based in Atlanta, is facilitating the process for development of the
new, Community Action Plan. The Plan will build upon the history and success of past
strategic planning efforts such as Vision 2025 community's future.  The development consists
of four phases:  Stakeholder Input(complete), Community Assessment(complete), Community Action Plan and Implementation Guidelines. The process will last approximately six months
and is set to conclude in July 2014.

The Community Assessment report may be accessed at 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Does Your Workplace Need an Employee Handbook?

By: Janine Springer, IOM
Chief Financial Officer
Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce

Do you and your employees a favor – create an Employee Handbook
Nothing builds ill will or decreases morale in a workplace than treating each employee differently on the same issue.  Well, you say, each employee has a different story as to why they need you to treat them special.  While that may be true, having the company policy in writing will ensure you treat everyone fairly.

Employee handbooks not only help the employee better understand the company and how they want their employees to conduct themselves in the workplace, but they potentially could keep you, the business owner, from an employee lawsuit in the future. 

Employee handbooks should include an introduction page that explains the company’s history and business culture.  Other items that should be included are:  Hours – do you have full time and part time employees?  How is overtime calculated?  Who is entitled to overtime?  Pay and Salaries – how do you set pay and raises?  Do you have a bonus program and if so, how does it work?  Benefits – explain vacation pay, sick pay, unpaid leave, etc.  Do you have medical and dental benefits? Retirement benefits?  Drug and Alcohol Abuse – Do you require drug testing?  Do you have a policy prohibiting employees from using drugs and alcohol in the workplace?  Do you offer help for employees with drug and alcohol related issues?  Harassment – Remind employees that any form of harassment is illegal and you take it seriously.  Specify how and to whom employees can make complaints, what procedures should be followed, how the complaint is investigated, and what actions will be taken against harassers.  Attendance – Explain what happens if there are numerous unexplained absences or repeated tardiness.  What are the normal business hours? Discipline – What types of conduct can get employees into trouble?  What are the steps for disciplining employees?  Employee Safety – Do employees know they need to follow safety rules and report any unsafe conditions?  Smoking – Do you have a written policy for on-the-job smoking?  Are your rules in compliance with your state law?  Complaints  - do you have a procedure in place for employee complaints?  Who receives complaints?  Who enforces the complaint procedure?  Electronic Communications – Do you have a policy on use of email?  The internet?  Social networking sites?  Blogs?  Workplace Civility – State how employees are to act toward each other

This listing is in no way all inclusive; you cannot possibly cover every possible workplace situation that could arise and you should state this in your handbook as well. 

Writing an employee handbook can seem like a daunting task and very time-consuming but there are easy (and free) ways to get it written.  Many corporate benefit companies have free online HR help that includes forms, legal guidelines, employer mandatory posters, and generic handbook samples that you can quickly modify with your information/logos, etc for a simple and easy employee handbook! 

The chamber has several members who offer corporate benefits (look in our Small Business Toolkit at and would be a great place to start your search for getting help in creating your employee handbook.  You and your employees will feel better knowing what the written rules are in the workplace. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Health Care Reform is Here

By Janine Springer, Chief Financial Officer

The ball is rolling….October 1 and Health Care Reform is here!

Sitting in an Arkansas BlueCross Blue Shield small employer seminar a few weeks ago, the realization set in that the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) was being implemented and that the way businesses currently buy health care insurance for either themselves or their employees will forever be changed.

While I had been continually bombarded in the past few years and more recently in the past two months with notices and rulings via email along with numerous webinars and countless seminars regarding the changes, it was sitting in a room filled with other small group plans and hearing the questions and concerns that they were voicing that it finally hit me:  good, bad or otherwise, the ball was rolling!

Whether or not you were pro or anti-Obamacare really doesn’t matter.  The bottom line is that businesses need to get ready before January 1 and have a plan in place regarding their employee (as well as their own) health care.  There are so many pieces to this puzzle that it would almost take someone with an advanced degree to figure out the information, not the mention the amount of time spent reading, calculating costs, and issuing health care notices regarding the state exchanges.

Having a grandfathered plan, my assumption was there would be less paperwork involved with the health care law.  That is not the case.  There are still forms and individual notices to be filled out (and filled out correctly or big fines will be given!).  I can only imagine the paperwork involved with a small business that has a large number of employees. 

My words of advice to small businesses not knowing what to do or where to turn would be to ask other businesses what they are doing and if they are working with a corporate benefits company.  The chamber has several members on our website ( that can help you make this transition as smooth as possible. 

Something I have remembered from my business law class in college...”ignorance of the law is no excuse.”

So get ready, because the ball is rolling and Health Care Reform is here.