Written by Mattie Powers
A special meeting of the Searcy Advertising and Tourism Promotion (A&P) Commission was held to discuss different matters Feb. 21, but one, in particular, was a request from the Creative Group of Arkansas for funding for a regional robotics tournament.
The A&P Commission had asked the Creative Group of Arkansas to reduce their initial funding request for the competition, which was $74,100. The Harding Academy robotics coach, Brian Jones, came to the Feb. 21 meeting as a part of the Creative Group of Arkansas with a new proposal of $49,147.98 by removing funds for hotel and food charges. Jones explained how the event will overall help the Searcy community.
“This is an incredible opportunity for Searcy, not just the community itself, but also for our schools,” Jones said. “I mentioned Searcy has started their team. … I met with some of the teachers over there who want to start junior high robotics programs, and so it’s growing, and I am so excited that I get to serve these kids in this way.”
The A&P Commission works on opportunities for the Searcy community to uphold the tourism industry in Searcy. TheA&P tax includes a 1% tax on prepared food and a 3% tax on a portion of overall receipts or proceeds from renting or leasing spaces such as hotels and motels.
Last year the A&P Commission gave $66,000 for the robotics competition to take place at the Rhodes Reaves Field House, but there were additional charges for other additions to the robotics activities, such as the Tinkerfest Beats and Eats being combined with the event. Tommy Centola, one of the A&P commissioners, gave his thoughts about how this event affects the community.
“I hope that it will continue to grow and continue to make Searcy a place [where] tournaments like this will be held more often, bringing more people to the city,” Centola said.
This year the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Arkansas Regional is being held March 2-4 at the Ganus Activities Complex. At the Feb. 21 meeting, A&P commissioner Rees Jones made the motion to provide the funds asked for by the Creative Group of Arkansas and added his thoughts about the event.
“I think based on [the] work that [Brian has] done and that the group has done, and just I’ve been to the event, I think it’s well attended,” Rees said. “I think it’s really neat. I think it’s something that Searcy can be known for.”