An Arkansas native, with more than 20 years of experience will soon take the helm of the Grove Area Chamber of Commerce as its newest director.

Donnie Crain will start as the chamber's director on Monday, Oct. 2. His appointment was announced on Friday, Sept. 15 by Jeff Dozier, president of the Grove Area Chamber of Commerce.

Crain currently serves as the president/tourism director for the Newton County Chamber of Commerce, in Jasper, Arkansas; a tourism, marketing and festival management consultant for the Mena (Arkansas) Advertising and Promotions Commission; and the economic development director for the Sherwood (Arkansas) Chamber of Commerce. 

Crain said moving to Grove is exciting, because he believes the community is a positive place for future growth for its stakeholders.

In his work in economic development, Crain said he is always looking for ways communities can explore the advantages or "what sets them apart" from nearby locations.

He hopes to capitalize on the advantages presented within the Grove area, to help promote the municipality for future business investment.

While he's worked in the past for multiple locations, on a contract basis, Crain said he believes focusing on one area - through the management of the chamber of commerce - will allow him to focus his time and effort in a new way.

"I see great things coming," Crain said. 

More about Crain

Crain chose to come to grove for a combination of "personal and professional" factors.

He sees the city's location on the lake and northeast Oklahoma as an ideal environment to not only develop economic growth but also tourism.

"It's not often you can find a community where you can live, play and invest in," Crain said, adding he hopes to find a way to not only bring in business, but also support the chamber's current membership, in order to enhance the quality of life within the area.

On a personal level, Crain said the community provides him with a small town atmosphere, as well as an outdoor lifestyle. 

Crain said in his visit to Grove during the Labor Day weekend, he met "very friendly people" who will provide a solid foundation to work with as he becomes acclimated to the community.

He said his family, which includes his wife and 12-year-old son, will move to Grove at the completion of the fall semester. His son, who currently attends school in Lonoke, Arkansas, will be a sixth grader at the upper elementary school.

Looking ahead

Crain believes he will bring a "wide variety of experiences" to the Grove chamber, ranging from infrastructure and marketing knowledge, to work with tourism and promotion.

He looks forward to become part of the Grow With Grove Initiative and sees that group's efforts as a positive trait for the community.

His biggest goal, he said, will be to ensure the chamber can meet the needs of all members. 

Crain said he plans to host several meetings, listening to people, and getting to know the strengths and weaknesses of the chamber, in order to develop a strategy to meet the needs.

"We're going to find out what niches or needs exist in the community, what we are doing well and what we can do better," Crain said. "Then develop a plan to make sure the chamber's needs are met."

Crain said he believes the chamber should take a leading role in the development of Grove, serving as a voice for the business community.

He also believes a chamber should be involved in the social aspects of a community, because issues which impact the "day to day" aspects of life, also impact businesses. 

"I think this will be a place I'll be able to come in, with my experience and be a great asset to help the community to continue to move forward," Crain said. "I'm looking forward to living here and becoming part of the community."

Crain, who is a member of the Sherwood (Arkansas) Rotary Club, said he is excited to become part of the Grove Rotary Club. 

"It's a testament of the special nature of the community to have a group that is proactive and progressive," Crain said. "[A group] that takes personal investments in the care of the community."