Sheryl Boyd would do anything to help the city of Jacksonville.
Boyd was recently installed as chairwoman of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce. She currently works for her parents’ Shelter Insurance Agency in Jacksonville.
“I’m very humbled and intimidated by the position [of board chairman],” she said. “I’m not ashamed of that.”
At the same time, Boyd is excited about working with the Jacksonville Chamber because of how the community can come together.
“Whenever we all come together, there isn’t any stopping us,” she said. “There really isn’t. It may have taken 30 years, but that is how we got our own school district. It’s the persistence of the Jacksonville people, pushing and keeping on.”
Boyd related an article that was referred to her from the March 25 Three Rivers Edition on the city of Batesville receiving a state tourism award.
She said that Robert Price, who is doing some work for the city on a plan to beautify Jacksonville, had sent out an email to chamber members telling them to read the story on Batesville.
“He emailed everybody on our committee about how good an article it was and how we all needed to read it,” Boyd said. “It said something like ‘nothing gets done in Batesville that is not a collaborative effort.’
“That is exactly what I was thinking about Jacksonville.”
Boyd said the Chamber of Commerce Banquet on Feb. 13 was a prime example.
“Our chamber banquet this year was the best one I’ve been to in I don’t know how long,” she said.
The chamber is currently trying to find a new full-time director, so no one, per se, was in charge of getting things ready for the banquet.
“So a bunch of volunteers got together, and we met here every week, planning this banquet,” Boyd said. “And it came together beautifully.”
Boyd said Ginger Price, who ran the Simply Delicious restaurant at the former North Pulaski High School, used her skills to serve the meal at the banquet. Double R Florist & Gifts decorated for the banquet, despite it being the day before Valentine’s Day.
“We’re planning our banquet that day because that is the day that Gov. Asa Hutchinson could come,” Boyd said. “It went off without a hitch. It was all pretty much all volunteers doing it — Jacksonville people.
“They are a group of people who are always going to make sure that when things are done, they are done right. I appreciate that so much.”
Boyd is a 1981 graduate of Jacksonville High School. She graduated the same year as her husband, Brian. They have been married 32 years. They have two children. Their son, Seth, married his wife, Kaylee, in December; and their daughter, Samantha, is a student at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia.
Boyd attended OBU, receiving a degree in mass communications. Following her honeymoon, she started working at KATV Channel 7 in Little Rock.
She worked there as an intern, editor, then producer.
“Daybreak was my first producing job,” Boyd said. “I ended up on Live at 5 for years.”
She worked for KATV for 17 years over a 20-year period, taking off time when she had her children, before going to work for her parents, Gene and Mary Ellen Bowman.
“I had been filling in on the 10 o’clock news a few nights a week for a year because they hadn’t hired anybody yet,” Boyd said. “The news still has to go on. That was hard having kids school age. My parents had someone quit. They said that if I would come to work for them, I could work school hours. They let me off summers, spring break, Christmas break, Thanksgiving break, at 3 p.m. so I could go pick [the kids] up. They basically gave me a teacher’s schedule.
“As my kids got older and needed me less, I just started working more. I have my insurance license, and I’m an agent there. That is what I do now.”
Boyd said she got involved with the Jacksonville Chamber a few years ago when Mark Goodsell, a high school friend, asked her if she would take his place on the chamber board when his term expired.
She spent one year on the board before being elected vice chairwoman, which then rolls over to the top spot, which she assumed this year, replacing Richard Moss.
“I’m a fine worker bee,” Boyd said. “Whatever you want me to do, I’ll do it. Being in charge is a different story. I was very reluctant.”
The chamber is looking for a new director. Currently, Amanda Lovell is the office manager.
“Amanda has only been here since November, but she’s doing a great job,” Boyd said.
Lovell said she enjoys working with Boyd.
“Sheryl is a wonderful person to work with, and she’s very compassionate about her city,” Lovell said. “She’s intuitive with the needs of her business, as well as the needs of our growing community.
“On top of everything, she brings a lot of energy and vision to the chamber of commerce.”
Boyd said she can ask for guidance from any of the past chairmen, who are all pictured in the board room of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce office. She said she’s known so many of them from her time working at her father’s shoe store.
“My dad had a shoe store before he went into the insurance business,” Boyd said. “A lot of these people, I put shoes on their feet. We were a full-service shoe store. It’s kind of intimidating to look around here. A lot of them have passed away, but I remember them.”
Boyd said Moss is just a phone call or text away if she needs any help.
“There are lots of people who are past chairmen who are very willing to help and are only a phone call or text away,” she said. “I appreciate that so much, but they are not in this office every day to know, to recognize that there is a hole or a gap there.”
Boyd said one of her first orders of business is to find a new director.
“That is my top priority,” she said. “I said that at our banquet in my speech that night. That still is. We’re working with the Advertising and Promotion Commission to rewrite the job description. Once we do that, we will post the job and start interviewing.”
In addition to hiring a director, Boyd has some ideas she wants to implement.
“I want businesses to realize that we are here for them,” she said. “I want to find out what they need and meet their needs, help the businesses that are already here to thrive and be the best that they can be.
“I’m a loyal Jacksonville person. I want us to shop Jacksonville first. I want to do whatever I can to help businesses thrive here.”
The chamber has several events during the year to help promote Jacksonville. Boyd said the Little Rock Air Force Base is one of the largest employers in the state.
“We have this golf tournament every year in June,” Boyd said. “On every four-man team, there are two Jacksonville
business people and two Air Force people. That helps create a relationship between us and the base.”
In addition to the golf tournament, a trap-shooting tournament is held in the fall. The chamber banquet is held in the first part of the year.
“We also have a Shop Small Saturday before Christmas to shop Jacksonville first,” Boyd said. “We used to have a Lunch Bunch once a month. We’re going to start that up in April, every other month.”
What that entails, Boyd said, is asking the chamber members to meet at a restaurant on the last Friday of the month, just to help everyone get to know each other better.
“I believe one month, we’ll meet at a chamber member’s restaurant, and the next month, at a non-chamber member’s so we can show them the value of being a chamber member,” she said.
Boyd said the chamber is going to restart showing family-friendly movies during the summer on the brick wall at the Nixon Library in Jacksonville.
“We did Flicks on the Bricks a few years ago,” she said. “It copies what Little Rock does in the River Market. We do it on the lawn of the library. We’ll get businesses to donate popcorn and water. We’ve got some food-truck vendors that are now members of the Jacksonville Chamber, and we’re going to invite them to come out.
“We think that it will be a really fun time.”
Boyd also said she enjoys working with Mayor Gary Fletcher.
“I’ve known the mayor all my life,” she said. “I want us to all work together because we’re on the same team.”
The current vice chairman for the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce board is Terry Weatherford. He will replace Boyd as chairman in 2019.
Staff writer Mark Buffalo can be reached at (501) 399-3676 or email@example.com.