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Newport Independent - Newport, AR
  • Robison named Grand Prairie Center director

  • Illinois native returns to Stuttgart after stints with Ark. Dept. of Tourism, Pine Bluff development
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  • Renee Robison, of Sherwood, has started her second week as the new director of the Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas’ Grand Prairie Center in Stuttgart.
    “I am very excited about my new role with the Grand Prairie Center,” Robison said, “and I look forward to working with visitors and community members as we enjoy events provided through the Grand Prairie Center and all that it has to offer.”
    In her new role, Robison plans to first see how the land lays. “Amanda (Holsted Horton) and staff here do a great job and I want to bring what experience I have in conferences and marketing here,” she said. “It’s only been here two years so there’s room for growth.”
    With an already embracing community and “booking fabulous,” Robison said she hopes to bring in more regional and state conferences that are on a small meeting level. This includes corporate retreats and strategic planning.
    “For southeast Arkansas, this is a great facility,” she said, adding that Stuttgart businesses already bring in people from across the state so they just need to convince them to stay for shopping for a show, stay over night at a local hotel and make an event of it.
    The Grand Prairie Center is a multi-use facility with a 1,300-seat auditorium and performance stage. Robison said she accepted the job in part because “my husband is getting ready to retire, and we have a place near Reydell that’s going to be our first home instead of our second.”
    It’s also a chance “to come back to what I consider home and be near my son and his wife. Coming back is not hard because I know this area and the people,” Robison said. “I’ve been selling Stuttgart and this area for a long time.”
    Robison came from the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism where she was a group travel manager promoting the state’s tourism industry and coordinating the marketing and tradeshow activities for group travel niche markets for conventions, meetings and other events. The job took her across the nation and Canada.
    The new job will now allow her to have a “slower pace and more structure” with only “one location to study how best to get people here.”
    An Illinois native, Robison moved to Arkansas in 1980 to work with the Stuttgart Chamber of Commerce as an administrative assistant to promote the annual Wings Over the Prairie Festival. She would eventually move to Pine Bluff in 1987 to work in the hotel industry, convention and visitors bureau and downtown development.
    Page 2 of 2 - In 2002, she began working for the DoubleTree Hotel until she moved to the Arkansas Hospitality Association as membership development and education director. She joined the Arkansas State Parks’ tourism division in 2008.
    Robison resides in Sherwood with her husband, Jay, and has one son, Zach Borchert, and daughter-in-law, Shannon. In her spare time, Robison enjoys riding her Harley Davidson Motorcycle and chairing motorcycle rallies.
    The couple co-chaired the 2007 Harley Davidson State Rally in Hot Springs and previously co-chaired the annual March of Dimes Biker for Babies event held in Little Rock.

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