2021 Build Bentonville - Outdoor Recreation
The Build Bentonville program boasts one of the most diverse attendee lists of any Chamber event with more than 125 businesses being represented.
With 34 people moving to Northwest Arkansas each day, Bentonville has quickly become a hot spot for serial entrepreneurship. Due to new technological advances, a biking mecca in our backyard, a hub for artists and makers, and an economy that is flourishing, our region has boundless opportunities for success.
This time last year, Bentonville leaders staked their claim as the Mountain Biking Capital of the World. With 130 miles of biking trails, a southern charm that is unmatched, and amenities that are rapidly growing, we've held on tight to the title. As our President and CEO, Graham Cobb, describes it, "We've redefined rush-hour." Everything we could need is right off of the trails- restaurants, bars, the grocery store, retail vendors, art museums, and more.
But, we've not only redefined rush-hour when it comes to mountain biking, we've redefined outdoor recreation for our community. The faces we see roll into town for baseball tournaments have changed, how we spend our time in the sun has expanded, our tourism population has boasted, and, too, how we manage our work/life balance looks different.
Join us on August 26th as we're joined by local outdoor recreation enthusiasts to answer some of the following questions, along with others:
1. How do you find your next trail and what is the process of building one?
2. How did outdoor recreation impact 2020 and keep our restaurants and lodging afloat?
3. What is the impact of being outdoors on mental health?
Erin Rushing - Executive Director, NWA Trailblazers
Natural State native and enthusiast Erin Rushing currently resides as the Executive Director of the NWA Trailblazers, a local non-profit tasked with developing trails in this region.
In Rushing's primitive years, he spent his time on a cattle farm in rural north-central Arkansas; Rushing shares, "I was exposed to nature my entire childhood in the Natural State. I loved being outdoors (hiking, fishing, camping, and hunting), but it wasn't until I moved away to Kansas City, Missouri, out of college that I really appreciated it. I quickly became addicted to the open space and wonderful greenway trail system my new hometown of KC had available to me. When I moved back to Arkansas five years later, I found myself searching for opportunities to develop and introduce greenway trails into a growing community that had none. Today, there are 400+ miles of pedestrian trails within Northwest Arkansas which I am very blessed to have been a part of their development."
Professionally, Rushing is a 1995 Landscape Architect graduate from the University of Arkansas, a collegiate entity providing design consulting work within the Northwest Arkansas market for the past 20+ years. During his time in Northwest Arkansas, Rushing has accumulated numerous design awards for the work he has completed.
Rushing has been designing and consulting on parks and recreation projects in this area for over 20 years, including 70+ miles of Greenway Trails and 300+ miles of natural surface trails and versed in land development and a strong background in site and civil-related development projects with an emphasis and passion for bicycle and pedestrian facilities.
Rushing, a proud father to three boys (20, 15, and 10), finds comfort and motivation from their enthusiasm for all that Northwest Arkansas has to offer, the outdoors, and embracing cycling as much as he does.
Allyson De La Houssaye - Chairman, Women of OZ
An avid athlete, mother and wife. Allyson is a Sports and Documentary Producer from Chicago. Having always ridden a bike at one point or another in her life she recently discovered mountain biking thanks to the beautiful OZ Trails system in NWA. She now considers herself a recovered road cyclist with a passion for bringing women together through mountain biking.
Allyson says, ”It’s a privilege to be leading Women of OZ with such a talented group of women. Too often we miss an opportunity for women to prop each other up and Women of OZ is an organization built on that. It’s all about the journey not the destination.”
Keep checking back for more updates.
Kalene Griffith - President/CEO, Visit Bentonville
Kalene Griffith is the president of Visit Bentonville in Bentonville, Arkansas. Her goal is to share her enthusiasm and experiences with others in our community and the rest of the world about Bentonville tourism.
In 2005, Kalene was hired as the president of Visit Bentonville, she then realized that her working career has always been in hospitality and tourism. She has loved every job from lifeguarding to special events to storytelling for Bentonville. Her education with early childhood education taught her to evaluate the challenges and celebrate the success to get the best results for every decision. Tourism has been her passion since she was 14 years old, working with parks and recreation.
She was appointed by the Governor to the Arkansas State Parks and Tourism Commission, is currently the chairperson. She is a board member of the Arkansas Hospitality Association Travel Council, Arkansas Association of Convention Visitors Bureau, Bentonville Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Bentonville, Inc., Bentonville Public Arts Advisory Board, Bentonville History Museum, Amazeum Children’s Museum, and Dress For Success.
She has been awarded the 40 under 40 by the Arkansas Business Journal and the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal C-Suite Award.
She currently resides in Bentonville with her husband, John, their wonderful children, son, Keegan (23), and daughter, Keelah (21) and our precious pup, Jersee.
To get involved or for any further questions, please contact Evan Gray at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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