Jackie Krutsch has submitted her resignation as executive director of the Van Buren Chamber of Commerce.
Krutsch has accepted the position of the director of development with the Arkansas Colleges of Health Education (Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine), located at Chaffee Crossing.
"This is bitter sweet for me and I hope to continue to a champion of Van Buren," Krutsch said.
Her final day with the chamber will be June 10, the day after the business fair and annual meeting in the Commons at Van Buren High School.
Krutsch said her new position will give her the opportunity to continue to do the type of work she likes best and assist in endeavors that improve the quality of life for the entire region.
In a letter to the chamber board, Krutsch said she would be happy to help with the transition of her duties and assist her replacement to help the chamber continue to function smoothly.
"I have wonderful staff that will be able to continue with their duties with limited supervision during the transition and who will welcome my replacement with a sincere team spirit and the best interest of the chamber at heart," she said.
Krutsch said she is thankful to have the opportunity to serve as the executive director of the commerce.
"Van Buren is a wonderful community with a tremendous amount of potential," she said. "Through the leadership of a strong chamber, the community can continue to grow and develop in a strategic and sustainable manner. It has been an honor to work with each of you and to represent the chamber. I consider each of you as my friends and would help you in any way that I can, now or in the future."
Lyn Miller, president of the chamber board of directors, said Krutsch’s resignation is a tremendous loss for the chamber and the city.
"Under her leadership, the chamber has grown in terms of membership, which is vitally important, but also in terms of influence for economic development," Miller said. "She has helped to shape not only a path for progress, but a process for continued growth."
Miller said the chamber has been extremely fortunate to have Krutsch at the helm for the past eight years.
"I am grateful for all that Jackie has accomplished on our behalf," she said. "It has been my pleasure and privilege to work with her not only as a board member but as a business owner as well. Without a doubt, she will be greatly missed. Her new position at Arkansas Colleges of Health Education is a wonderful opportunity for her and her family. It is well earned, well deserved and I could not be happier for her."
In the meantime, Miller said the chamber has a great board of directors and a fantastic and capable staff that will be able to carry on until the next executive director is named.
Mayor Bob Freeman said Krutsch has been a phenomenal director for the chamber of commerce and will be missed.
"I am fortunate that her tenure with the chamber is about the same as mine as mayor and we have had a great relationship and have been able to work together for the betterment of our community," Freeman said. "Under her leadership the chamber of commerce has not only grow in membership but has become a strong voice for our local businesses."
He said he hopes the next director can build on what Krutsch and the board have put in place and take the chamber to new heights.
"The city staff and I will do whatever we can to assist," Freeman said. "This is all about building a better community for all of us to work and live."
Jim Petty, who will become board president at the annual meeting June 9, said the chamber is losing a tremendous asset and a strong advocate for Van Buren in the greater Fort Smith region.
"So while we are happy for her and the new opportunity she has been presented, we are disappointed to lose her strong leadership and talents at the chamber and in Van Buren," Petty said. "I know her body may spend more time ‘over the river’ with this new opportunity, but I can’t help but believe her heart will always be here in Van Buren. I personally wish her the best."
Gailene Park, a former board president, said she is very happy for Krutsch in her new job, but sad for the chamber’s loss.
"She has been a wonderful advocate for the Van Buren chamber and our entire community," Park said. "She will be truly missed, however, in her new role she will continue to utilize her tremendous talents to bring opportunity to this region."
Dr. Harold Jeffcoat, superintendent of the Van Buren School District, said, while he hates to see Krutsch leave, he knows she will be working in an area in which she is passionate.
"In the time that I’ve worked with her, it has become clear to me that Jackie is a strong leader and has been a true asset to Van Buren," Jeffcoat said. "The success of our school district and community is contingent on everyone striving for excellence. There’s no doubt our chamber of commerce is moving in a positive direction, much of which is due to efforts made by Jackie and her team. There’s no doubt that she will be successful in her new role, and while we will miss her, we wish her the best of luck."
David Young, a chamber board member, said he believes Krutsch will continue to support Van Buren in her new position.
Another board member, Debbie Foliart, said Krutsch has been a crucial part of the growth Van Buren is seeing.
"Her knowledge of small business as well as the workings of larger industry is crucial in a position such as this to maintain constant communication with our state government that can help our business right here at home," Foliart said. "Most people have no idea the time she has put in to the work she has done over the past years and how that has been fruitful for not only the businesses here but the people that run those businesses."
Foliart said Krutsch is a good friend and will be dearly missed.
"I would be selfish if I didn’t wish her the best in her new position," Foliart said. "We, as a chamber board, will have to work hard to fill her shoes with someone that has the passion and drive to get things done and continue the momentum we have started to see with things happening in our city."