Thursday, Decemeber 13, 2007
Owen takes post with Arkansas agency
OC. Ivy Owen, community development coordinator with the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, formerly of Holly Springs, recently announced he accepted the executive director position with the Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority (FCRA) in Fort Smith, Ark. Owen has been an active part of the Philadelphia community where he has served on numerous boards and committees.
He currently serves as the president of the Neshoba County Rebel Club, secretary of the International Community Development Council, president of East Central Mississippi Economic Council, member of the Philadelphia Main Street board of directors, member of the Philadelphia-Neshoba County Strategic Planning Committee, member of the Philadelphia Coalition, and class director for the National Community Development Institute.
“Ivy has served our community admirably,” said David Vowell, president of the Community Development Partnership. “Ivy has been a very active community supporter and we hate to see him go but wish him the best in his newest endeavor. The Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority has found a true visionary in him.”
The former Fort Chaffee military base was partially closed due to the Base Realignment and Relocation Act (BRAC). As a result of the BRAC process, approximately 7,000 acres of the base were deeded to the City of Fort Smith, the City of Barling and Sebastian County. The three political entities created a trust to oversee the redevelopment of the property. On Tuesday, the trust held an executive session meeting to name Owen as the new executive director of the authority. In his new capacity, Owen will be responsible for redeveloping FCRA’s 7,000 acres as well as recruiting and retaining industries and businesses to the development.
“It’s an exciting opportunity, and I think we have a great future here at Fort Chaffee,” Owen said of his new home.
Dr. Jerry Stewart, authority chairman, said Owen would jump into an organization that is just now starting to blossom. With several buildings needing to be demolished for development on authority property, generating revenue for infrastructure will be key.
“We’ve sort of got the boat loaded, and now we need a captain to take us out on the sea,” Stewart said.
According to Owen’s credentials, he has the experience for which the board was looking. In his seven years with the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, Owen has been responsible for recruiting, retaining and expanding industrial, commercial and retail tenants on tribal land. He has also been behind the new master land use plan of the 40,000-acre reservation. In addition, Owen has over 35 years of economic development experience in Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas. Owen was the former director of the Holly Springs Community Development Agency.
Owen said his passion and experience in economic development spurred his desire to take on the challenges at the authority.
“The FCRA has a redevelopment plan that was adopted years ago, and I look forward to furthering that and continuing what the trust has done to begin with but be even more innovative in the future with the land use,” Owen said. “I think it needs a little tweaking.”
Owen’s experience and his drive impressed the authority board, Stewart said. Along with his proven track record of economic development, he also has experience dealing with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, with which he worked when he was community development and project director at SunBay Resort in Hot Springs for 14 years.
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