AEDCE Member Spotlight
Director of Marketing
Lorie Robertson is Director of Marketing for Chaffee Crossing, the $1.6 billion economic development project created by the Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority Public Trust. She has devoted the past 10 years to building the brand for the nationally recognized 7,000-acre project which has attracted 16 corporate headquarters, created over 2,600 jobs, and become the driving economic engine for Fort Smith and the entire western Arkansas region. Lorie is a graduate and active supporter of the Community Development Institute at UCA. She also serves on the Lavaca City Council and is an active community volunteer.
- Where were you born? Monett, MO Where do you live today? Lavaca, Arkansas
- What do you love most about Arkansas? The way neighbors truly care about each other and make sacrifices to help both people they know and people they don’t.
- Very few people know that I… am a fabric-aholic. I love to sew and create things from fabric.
- How would you describe Arkansas to someone that has never been here? Beautiful, majestic, welcoming, generous.
- What advice would you give to your 21-year old self? Slow down and explore more of the opportunities life has to offer.
- The greatest risk I ever took was…? Taking a job with an advertising agency. I had dreamed of working for one since I was a little girl, but I wasn’t sure I could make it on commission or that I had what it took. I found out I could and did.
- What issue facing Arkansas, or your local community keeps you up at night? Funding for construction and maintenance of major infrastructure projects that keep us from recognizing our full potential. There are so many wonderful things happening in our state and we have very good momentum, but we struggle to capitalize on the things that we need most to boost our economy.
- Who would you most like to swap places with for the day and why? Governor Hutchinson’s speech writer. It’s a job I used to dream of having. He’s a great leader and a great encourager. It would be an honor, challenging, and gratifying to work closely with him, learning about the state of affairs and helping him convey his messages to legislators and citizens.
- How long have you been in the chamber/economic development profession, and what do you like most about your job? I have worked for the Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority for five years, but I have helped build, promote and protect the Chaffee Crossing brand for 10 years. It has become a very personal passion; it’s in my blood. I constantly think about our current and prospective investors and what we can do next to help them build this growing community. I know that the work our team has done and will continue to do until the FCRA trust is dissolved, is changing the lives of people all over the Fort Smith region. It is clear that Chaffee Crossing development will impact generations to come. That’s a very big deal and a big responsibility. I am incredibly proud of what we have accomplished together.
- Best career advice I would give someone in the Economic Development or Chamber profession? Never stop learning, asking questions, evolving. If you truly love the community you serve, embracing change in yourself will help you help your community. Seek out professional education and training from organizations like Community Development Institute, IEDC and others to gain ideas and build relationships that will help you be creative and confident.
Dwayne Pratt is the Executive Director of the West Central Arkansas Planning and Development District in Hot Springs, AR. He has been the WCAPDD Executive Director since July 2005. Dwayne has worked for WCAPDD for over twenty-six years in various capacities. He has been involved in all aspects of the District’s economic development programs including transportation planning, solid waste management planning, economic and community development planning & administrative activities and has managed the District’s finance programs.
Prior to being named Executive Director, he served as the District’s Economic Development Administration Planner for ten years. Dwayne is a member of the board of directors for the National Association of Development Organizations, the Southwest Region Economic Development Association and a member of the Council of Peers for the Southeast Regional Director’s Institute. He is married to Tracey and has three children, Logan, Chloe, and Olivia. He is a native of Hot Springs, Arkansas.
- Where were you born? Where do you live today? Born in Hot Springs and still live there today.
- What do you love most about Arkansas? I love the geographical diversity of Arkansas. From the Ozark and the Ouachita Mountains in the North and West sections of the State to the Delta in the East. Our unique geography provides for any type of outdoor activity you could imagine. I especially love spending time on Lake Ouachita. It’s my favorite place to relax.
- Very few people know that … am an avid turkey hunter.
- How would you describe Arkansas to someone that has never been here? Arkansas has everything you need. There is natural beauty that is second to none. We have vibrant cities with arts and culture and our people are the epitome of friendly Southern hospitality.
- What advice would you give to your 21-year old self? Don’t stress over things that you can’t control.
- The greatest risk I ever took was…? Getting married at a youthful age, right out of college. But it has provided the greatest rewards and thirty years later it has proven to be the best decision I ever made.
- What issues facing Arkansas, or your local community keeps you up at night? Access to quality high-speed broadband internet for the rural parts of our State.
- Who would you most like to swap places with for the day and why? I love basketball. So, I would say I’d like to swap places with Steph Curry and be able to shoot the ball like he can.
- How long have you been in the chamber/economic development profession, and what do you like most about your job? I have worked in economic development for twenty-six years. The thing I like most about my job is seeing the “fruits of your labor”. It is satisfying to help a community complete a project that brings jobs to our region and to know that you played a part in providing employment opportunities for fellow Arkansans.
- Best career advice I would give someone in the Economic Development or Chamber profession. If you want to get rich, this isn’t the field for you. If you want to make a difference for your community and our state to make it a better place to live, then there isn’t a better field you could choose.