Q&A with Debbie Rambo with Samaritan Community Center for 1 Million Meals

Friday, April 28 at 05:35 AM
Category: Arvest Community News

The Samaritan Community Center* has been serving Northwest Arkansas since 1989 where it started out as a clothing ministry and quickly turned into a food pantry instead. We’re grateful to be joining together to fight hunger in our 1 Million Meals initiative.

Debbie Rambo was happy to do a Q&A with us, so we could learn more about the Samaritan Community Center’s efforts to help our neighbors in need.

What’s your involvement with Samaritan Community Center, and how did you get started?
While I initially began as a volunteer when the organization was an outreach of my church, I have been the executive director for the Samaritan Community Center since it became an independent nonprofit organization in 2002. 

I have always had a desire to serve others which is something that my parents modeled for me as a child as they continually served other persons in need. Leading the organization since it became a nonprofit has also allowed me to develop a leadership team that is passionate about our mission, an amazing group of dedicated volunteers, and an organizational culture that strives to care for the whole person in a loving, grace-filled environment. 

What’s a compelling experience you’ve had during your time with Samaritan Community Center?
There was a gentleman named Mark that we regularly served over the years who was homeless and mentally ill. We helped to get him into permanent housing multiple times, but his illness just made an apartment too confining for him. Through the years, we just kept an eye out for him helping him with groceries on a regular basis or the occasional hotel room during extreme weather. He loved coffee, was particular about what he would or would not eat, and had the most amazing blue eyes. 

Last year, Mark passed away, and we had the opportunity to meet his extended family. I learned that he had been an aviation mechanic and had a son in the military. His brothers had those same blue eyes and they were filled with tears to know that we had loved Mark just the way he was. There is not a single day that goes by that I don’t think of Mark and wish I could just buy him a cup of coffee or take him some fresh fruit and granola bars.

How can people get involved with Samaritan Community Center?
There are a variety of ways in which people can get involved. We are a volunteer-driven organization with people doing everything from stocking the food shelves in our market to serving meals in our café to weeding or planting in our garden to sorting clothes in our thrift store. We can work with groups to do special projects on-site and food or personal care item drives off-site. Donations of quality clothing, household items and furniture to thrift stores are important too as one-third of our support comes from the stores. Financial support is easy and can be done online through our website* or by texting to give (text SCC to 555-888). 

We’d love to have you involved in our 1 Million Meals initiative to help the Samaritan Community Center* and our other food partners.  

Four Easy Ways to Donate:
  • Donate via Phone – Customers can make a $1 (or more) donation by calling (866) 952-9523. Funds will be drawn directly from your Arvest account.
  • Donate via Mail – Mail a check to Arvest Bank Operations, ATTN: 1MM, P.O. Box 799, Lowell, AR 72745. Include 1 Million Meals in the memo line of the check.
  • Donate in a Branch – Stop by your local Arvest Bank branch. Cash and check contributions accepted.
  • Donate Arvest Flex Rewards™ – Customers can redeem points for a 1 Million Meals donation. Log in at arvestflexrewards.com, and click on the banner for 1 Million Meals to get started!
We’ll Donate $1 Each Time You:
  • Follow us on Instagram.
  • Like or share our 1 Million Meals Facebook posts.
  • Retweet our 1 Million Meals tweets on Twitter on April 21 and May 10.

Links marked with * go to a third-party site not operated or endorsed by Arvest Bank, an FDIC-insured institution.       

Tags: 1 Million Meals, Arkansas, Arvest Benton County, Charitable Giving, Community Support, Northwest Arkansas, Rogers
 

Commercial Real Estate Market Absorbs Over 1,000,000 Square Feet of Space in Northwest Arkansas

Monday, April 24 at 08:15 AM
Category: Arvest Community News

Multi-family vacancy rates up slightly but remain low.

Arvest Bank today released its Skyline Reports on commercial and multifamily real estate in Northwest Arkansas for the last six months of 2016.

In the commercial real estate market, 1,005,502 square feet of commercial space were absorbed in Northwest Arkansas during the second half of the year, while 541,561 square feet of new space were added, resulting in a net positive absorption of 463,941 square feet. The vacancy rate for all commercial space fell from 12.7 percent in the first half of 2016 to 11.7 percent in the second half. During the first half of 2016, the commercial market experienced net positive absorption of 11,847 square feet.

The retail submarket has seen a slight increase in vacancy rates from 9.2 percent in the first half of 2016 to 9.4 percent in the second half of 2016, while the warehouse submarket has seen a more significant decrease in vacancy rates year-over-year from 11.5 percent in the second half of 2015 to 8.1 percent in the second half of 2016. According to Kathy Deck, lead researcher for the Skyline Report and director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, this trend is likely a result of the changing shopping preferences of consumers.

“As consumers have increasingly embraced online shopping, it stands to reason that these new shopping preferences will have an impact on different types of commercial real estate with the retail real estate market softening while the warehouse market begins to tighten. I think that is what we are likely witnessing here in Northwest Arkansas,” said Deck.

The office submarket continues to show strength. While 155,933 new square feet were added in the second half of 2016, 271,396 square feet were absorbed – a net positive absorption of 115,463 square feet.

From July 1 to Dec. 31, 2016, there were $137.2 million in commercial building permits issued in Northwest Arkansas, a decrease from the $206.5 million in commercial building permits issued in the first half of the year and a slight increase from the $112.8 million in issued in the last half of 2015.

“Overall, the commercial real estate market can be described as both very active and well-balanced at this time,” Deck continued.

Vacancy rates in multifamily real estate rose slightly from the first half of the year but remain at low levels throughout Northwest Arkansas.  The overall vacancy rate for the Northwest Arkansas multifamily market during the second half of 2016 was 3.2 percent, up from 2.4 percent in the first half of the year. The Skyline Report tracks 336,159 multifamily units in 735 multifamily properties across Northwest Arkansas.

Craig Rivaldo, president with Arvest Bank of Benton County, said about the Skyline results, “We are visiting with a large number of clients who have been very encouraged regarding the real estate development market here in Northwest Arkansas. They have been seeing and hearing what this report indicates – that the market is well balanced, and there are plenty of good opportunities for intelligent commercial and multifamily projects now and in the future.”

Springdale continues to have the lowest vacancy rate in the region, now falling below 1.0 percent to 0.9 percent followed by Bentonville at 1.3 percent, Siloam Springs at 1.8 percent, Rogers at 2.7 percent and Fayetteville at 4.7 percent. Fayetteville’s vacancy rate of 4.7 percent was up from 3.6 percent in the first half of 2016, the result, according to Deck, of a substantial number of “by-the-bed” rental units targeted to college students coming onto the market after the start of the Fall school semester.

Increased demand put upward pressure on lease rates with the average monthly lease price for a multifamily property unit in Northwest Arkansas increasing to $627.04 from $608.88 in the first half of 2016.

“We are running out of adjectives to describe the multifamily market in Northwest Arkansas,” Deck said. “Considering that what is generally considered the normal vacancy rate in multifamily properties is 5 percent, for the overall rate in Northwest Arkansas to be in the 3 percent range and to have stayed under 4 percent since the second half of 2014 is remarkable. With so many new multifamily properties under construction or recently announced, we anticipate that we will likely be in the more normal range of 5 percent within 18- to 24-months. And with so many of the newer properties having a more robust set of amenities, it won’t be surprising if we see higher average rates at that time, even with a higher overall vacancy rate.”

The Arvest Skyline Report is a biannual analysis of the latest commercial, single-family residential and multi-family residential property markets in Benton and Washington counties. The report is sponsored by Arvest Bank and conducted by the Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) in the Sam. M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas.

In 2004, Arvest Bank entered into a contract with CBER to collect information about the local real estate markets. CBER researchers aggregated and analyzed data from local governments, property managers, visual inspections and the business media to provide a complete picture of the status of property markets in the two counties.

The CBER provides excellence in applied economic and business research to federal, state and local government, as well as to businesses currently operating or those that desire to operate in the state of Arkansas. The center further works to improve the economic opportunities of all Arkansans by conducting policy research in the public interest.

Tags: Arkansas, Arvest Benton County, Arvest Biz, Bentonville, Business Banking, Community Support, Home Loans, Mortgage, Northwest Arkansas, Prairie Grove, Press Release, Rogers, Siloam Springs, Springdale
 

Skyline Report Finds Active, Balanced Residential Real Estate Market in Northwest Arkansas

Friday, March 10 at 07:30 AM
Category: Arvest Community News

Significant increase in absorption matches increase in permits.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arvest Bank today released the residential real estate market Skyline Report results for the second half of 2016 in Northwest Arkansas. The report noted an almost equal increase in building permits issued, with a 37.0 percent increase over the same period in 2015, and new homes being occupied showing a 37.6 percent increase.

Significant absorption of new homes led to the lowest level of remaining months of unbuilt lot inventory, 35.1 months, since the inception of the Skyline Report in 2004.

“Given the increase in building permits we’ve seen during the past twelve months, it is quite impressive that the absorption of newly constructed homes has kept pace,” said Kathy Deck, lead researcher for the Skyline Report at the Center for Business and Economic Research at the Sam M. Walton College of Business, University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. “Overall the residential real estate market is as hot as we’ve seen it since the recession. Moving forward we will be paying attention to two issues that could slow down the pace of absorption – the forecasts for slower job growth in the area and the price of lots that are remaining, as this could limit builders’ ability to build the price of homes that are selling.”

There were 1,561 building permits issued in Benton and Washington counties in the first six months of 2016 and 1,574 new homes sold in the last six months of the year indicating good balance between the number of new homes being constructed and the number of new homes being purchased. In the second half of the year there were 1,638 permits issued, a 37.0 percent increase from the 1,196 permits issued during the same period of 2015.

The average sale price of homes sold during the period increased 7.4 percent from the same period in 2015 in Benton County, from $206,575 to $221,944. In Washington County, it increased 6.7 percent, from $189,093 to $201,804.

Centerton, in Benton County, has emerged as a hotbed of building activity. The number of building permits issued in Centerton from July through December was 208 – a 49.9 percent increase year-over-year and the third highest total of all cities in Northwest Arkansas. On the same note, there were 288 houses sold in the city during the period, a 46.9 percent increase over the same period in 2015.

“It is good to see the residential market being so active while also remaining well-balanced in terms of supply,” said Deck. “The market was equally hot prior to the recession, but at the end of 2006 there were more than 2,500 complete but unoccupied houses on the market and now there are fewer than 300. We hope that this balance is sustainable moving forward.”

“As Northwest Arkansas has continued to experience strong growth, we at Arvest have had the opportunity to help thousands of customers get into homes,” said Craig Shy, executive vice president and loan manager for Arvest Bank in Fayetteville. “During the next several years, expectations are that interest rates will rise slightly, but we keep reminding customers that even if rates increase slightly, they will still be very, very low from a historical perspective. The best news is that, in a balanced market like this, it is generally good for both buyers and sellers, as is evidenced by the large number of both new and existing homes that sold during the last half of 2016.”

The total number of new and existing homes sold in the last half of 2016 was 4,772 – a 12.1 percent increase from the 4,257 sold in the last half of 2015.

The Arvest Skyline Report is a biannual analysis of the latest commercial, single-family residential and multi-family residential property markets in Benton and Washington counties. The report is sponsored by Arvest Bank and conducted by the Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) in the Sam. M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas.

In 2004, Arvest Bank entered into a contract with CBER to collect information about the local real estate markets. CBER researchers aggregated and analyzed data from local governments, property managers, visual inspections and the business media to provide a complete picture of the status of property markets in the two counties.

The CBER provides excellence in applied economic and business research to federal, state and local government, as well as to businesses currently operating or those that desire to operate in the state of Arkansas. The center further works to improve the economic opportunities of all Arkansans by conducting policy research in the public interest.

Tags: Arkansas, Arvest Benton County, Bentonville, Fayetteville, Northwest Arkansas, Prairie Grove, Press Release, Siloam Springs, Skyline, Springdale
 

Martin Luther King Jr. Day Reception in Fayetteville, Ark.

Tuesday, January 03 at 05:05 AM
Category: Arvest Community News
One of the most anticipated annual events at Arvest Bank in Fayetteville, Ark. happens just two weeks into 2017. The bank will host the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. reception Jan. 16 at 2 p.m. in the lobby of the Arvest branch at 75 N. East Ave., Fayetteville, Ark.

The reception honors the life and work of the great civil rights leader with guest speaker Joseph K. Wood and the Holcomb Elementary School Honor Choir.

Wood is the newly elected Washington County Judge and former Deputy Secretary of State for Arkansas. Before that he worked for Walmart Stores, Inc. corporate office as head of international recruitment and staffing. 

“The reception honoring the memory and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is a wonderful way to start our year,” said Gaye Wilcox, EVP and Sales Manager of Arvest Bank in Fayetteville. “We always look forward to it as a great way to honor Dr. King while remaining open in Fayetteville to better serve our customers.”
 
Wood was a foundling that had been abandoned on the streets at birth and spent the first few years of his life in an orphanage. Adopted into a family that included two brothers and a sister, he grew up in the tough neighborhoods of Chicago. His parents, a construction worker and an educator, stressed hard work and education along with serving the community. 
 
He earned his business administration degree from Iowa State University in 1987 and finished his master’s of christian leadership in 2016. 
 
Wood has a variety of business experience, including owning his own career consulting firm and working as assistant director of admissions for the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. He also formerly worked as a state bank examiner. 
 
Among his many community service activities, Wood serves on the board for KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) Delta Public Schools, is a board member for Youth Bridge, is a state representative for Sister Cities International, serves on the Region 2 Selective Services board and is a member of the Board of Governance for Ecclesia College in Springdale, Ark. He formerly served on the University of Arkansas Chancellor’s Diversity Advisory Board and on the board for the NWA American Red Cross. 
 
Wood and his wife of 24 years, June Wood, moved to Washington County in 1997 and share their home with June’s mother. The couple has three daughters and two grandsons. The family attends Christian Life Cathedral in Fayetteville.  
 
Tags: Arkansas, Community Support, Fayetteville, Northwest Arkansas

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