Welcome to Beyond the Bank

By on Feb 3, 2016 in People | 1 comment

In this blog, we’ll explore the people and events that make the area of the country served by Simmons Bank such an interesting place to live, work and play. Our writers will be on the road across Simmons Country in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Tennessee to find stories of interest. It might be a successful high school football team. It might be a restaurant that has been operating for more than 50 years. It might be a volunteer who is considered the heart and soul of his or her community. We hope you find the stories fun to read, and we solicit your feedback.

Group of Small Business Owners Helping West Tennessee Entrepreneurs with theCO

By on Nov 29, 2016 in Business, People | 0 comments

West Tennessee entrepreneurs have a valuable resource thanks to a group of friends who are passionate about what they do. Small business owners Ben Ferguson, Ben Harris, William Donnell, Barrett Gay and Drew Ermenc decided in July 2014 to create a co-working space for area entrepreneurs. Board members for the state-funded West Tennessee Entrepreneur Center in Jackson told the group they were in need of leadership due to the retirement of the organization’s executive director. The friends agreed to help the board with a program that’s coordinated by the Launch Tennessee statewide entrepreneur program. An entity with the unusual name of theCO was born. Members of the group have worked countless hours with little pay to create a facility that offers office space, basic equipment and even a 3D printer, multimedia studio and woodworking equipment. “They’re doing all of this in a rural...

More Than 160 Years Later CBC Still Molding Young Men of St. Louis

By on Nov 18, 2016 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

In 1850, three French-speaking members of the Christian Brothers, a Catholic religious community, began educating boys in St. Louis. The Brothers traveled to St. Louis from Montreal with the directive to establish schools that would serve all children, including the poor They formed St. Joseph’s Academy. The name was changed to Academy of the Christian Brothers in 1851. The Christian Brothers were granted a college charter for Academy of the Christian Brothers in 1855, becoming the Brothers’ first U.S. institution to have college programs. More than a century later, Christian Brothers College High School is still ministering to young men from the ninth through the 12th grades in St. Louis. Some of them wouldn’t have had a chance to attend private school if it weren’t for CBC’s commitment to diversity and providing opportunities to students with a wide range of talents. “Thirty-five...

Little Rock Businessman Refurbishing Homes, Restoring Historic Community

By on Nov 8, 2016 in Business, People | 0 comments

On a gloomy fall morning, Paul Dodds is giving a tour of his adopted neighborhood near historic Little Rock Central High School. He has the look of a proud father as he points out several properties he has refurbished. The once-magnificent homes from the early 1900s had been left to rot. Some were slated for demolition. Dodds’ property company repaired them and has rejuvenated the block with new tenants. “There’s a real pleasure in finding things that people don’t recognize as having value and then creating value there,” he says. Urban Frontier LLC has 25 rental units and 10 that he plans to refurbish. The homes Dodds buys often are on the National Register of Historic Places or in the process of being placed on the list. Dodds has purchased most of the properties on a block of 17th Street and isn’t slowing down. Dodds points out several homes near the high school that are on his wish...

Central Arkansas Entrepreneur Turns DJ Gig into Full-Service Company

By on Nov 2, 2016 in Business, Entertainment | 0 comments

Joe Snell doesn’t sit still for long, especially on weekends during wedding season.  The owner of Central Arkansas Entertainment is sitting at a table in the Benton Events Center late on a Friday afternoon, thinking about all of the things he still needs to do. He’s antsy for a reason. Snell has 32 events to manage this weekend, including the lighting for a concert at Bryant’s Fall Fest and multiple weddings. He’s trying to wrap up decorating a banquet hall for a large wedding and move on to the next assignment.  “I’m tired at night, but I enjoy what I do,” Snell says. “It’s my passion. I love weddings.” In just more than nine years, Snell built the company from a one-man disc jockey service into an entity that can offer music, lighting, décor and more for weddings, corporate events and festivals. The company, which has four full-time employees, uses 16 DJs in central Arkansas, two in...

Be a Helping Hand Making a Difference With Affordable Housing in Nashville

By on Oct 28, 2016 in People | 0 comments

Mark Wright, a Nashville resident, was shocked when he moved to the city’s urban core in 2000. Wright had grown up in Bordeaux, one of the city’s middle-class neighborhoods. After high school he attended college, studied architectural engineering and later owned his own company. He had no idea pockets of Nashville were so impoverished. “That was my first encounter seeing people living in … I don’t want to say subhuman conditions, but in very poor neighborhoods,” Wright says. “You don’t understand it until you’re in the middle of it every day. It opened my eyes and made me want to do something.” Wright’s brother-in-law, Kelly Holmes, established the Be A Helping Hand Foundation, a nonprofit organization that trained ex-convicts and others in construction trades. Wright served on the boa rd of the foundation and by 2006 was the volunteer executive director. He balanced that position...

Historic West Tennessee Church Stronger Than Ever After Fire

By on Oct 25, 2016 in Places | 0 comments

In the cemetery behind the gutted Mount Pleasant First United Methodist Church building in rural west Tennessee were two charred pages from the Methodist hymnals. One page was titled “We Shall Overcome.” The other was titled “Have Thine Own Way, Lord.” The members of the Dresden, Tenn., congregation took that as a sign. They built a new building in less than a year. The fire also rekindled some of the congregation’s spiritual faith. “It’s hard to believe that it takes something like that to bring them back,” says the church treasurer, James Klutts. “But it did. Our congregation is stronger than ever.” A series of storms rolled through the area in the early morning hours of Monday, April 20, 2015. Lightning hit the steeple of the church. The bolt ran through the building and in the ground to a neighboring Baptist church. The strike was so powerful that it blew the meter off the wall of...

Wichita Entrepreneur Ahead of Her Time With Natural Foods Market

By on Oct 13, 2016 in Business, Uncategorized | 0 comments

When it comes to business, Barb Hoffmann’s family follows her lead. Sometimes, family members struggle just to keep up. “One day, they pulled me to the side and said, ‘If you start one more business, we’re done,’” Hoffmann says with a laugh. Her ambition has made her a respected entrepreneur in her native Wichita, Kan., and beyond. Hoffmann started in the late 1970s hosting what were known as plant parties, at which she sold plants to groups of women during evening gatherings. That later blossomed into a commercial greenhouse business that became Tropical Designs, an interior plant operation. As if that weren’t enough, her family opened GreenAcres Market in 1994, specializing in vitamins and natural foods. Hoffmann was treated for chronic back pain by a doctor who prescribed alternative medicine and included vitamin therapy. That inspired her to open the business, which struggled for...

Iconic Fayetteville Bartender Makes Dream Come True With Grub’s, Gusano’s

By on Oct 3, 2016 in Business, Food | 0 comments

Matt Christie resembles a bartender more than a chief executive officer. You won’t catch the successful Fayetteville, Ark., restaurant owner in a suit. On this summer day in his corporate offices, he’s leaning back in a conference-room chair sporting a cap, golf shirt, cargo shorts and sneakers. The 40-year-old business owner achieved cult status on Dickson Street, the main restaurant and bar district for University of Arkansas students, soon after he arrived on campus as a student in 1995. It wasn’t long before the bartender nicknamed “Grub“ was a fixture at establishments that catered to college students. “I loved the social life,” Christie says. “I still do.” Academia became an afterthought, and Christie made bartending and managing his career. In 2001, he and two co-workers at Hoffbrau Steaks opened Grub’s Bar & Grille on Dickson Street. The business was an instant success....