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FORT SMITH -- The city's Advertising and Promotions Commission made significant headway in the search for an executive director.

After discussion, Fort Smith Advertising and Promotions Commission voted Tuesday to use the St. Paul, Minn.-based firm SearchWide Global. However, the city must be able to negotiate a "reasonable" rate for the firm's services, and the city would get a favorable recommendation on the firm from the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The commission also voted to adopt an updated job description for the position. The previous director, Claude Legris, announced his retirement June 23 after serving since Feb. 19, 2001. His last day was July 10.

This comes as the city is negotiating an agreement with a Los Angeles-based Oak View Group to operate the Fort Smith Convention Center, which is managed by the Advertising and Promotions Commission. The city subsidizes the convention center with $777,000 per year from the general fund.

In considering whether to hire an outside firm, City Administrator Carl Geffken said earlier this month the city is examining what it has done "in the past, and are there different, better ways that can provide better service, more service at the same cost, or do the same with less cost."

Rich Lolley, city human resources director, said SearchWide Global contacted him a week ago. A representative told him it had done some work in Little Rock on the same type of search, although the subject of money wasn't discussed.

SearchWide Global's website describes the company as a "full service executive search firm primarily for companies in the travel, tourism, hospitality, convention, trade association, venue management, experiential marketing, sports and entertainment industries."

Tim Seeberg, general manager of the convention center, commented favorably on SearchWide Global, saying the firm is "very well-versed in this industry."

Lolley said the job description was revised with input from the commission since its last meeting July 7.

The description is divided into sections, starting with a summary the executive director administers all efforts to advertise and promote the city and the surrounding area under the commission's direction, "to benefit the tourism and travel industry and economic vitality of the city, region and state."

The director oversees all operations of the Fort Smith Convention and Visitors Bureau and is responsible for the implementation of the policies and procedures the commission sets forth.

The description describes essential duties and responsibilities of the position, supervisory responsibilities, qualification requirements, necessary education and/or experience, other required skills and abilities, physical demands and the work environment.

Lolley said the salary range for the position is $84,500 to $127,000. Carolyn Joyce, group sales manager for the Fort Smith Convention and Visitors Bureau, has taken on the role of interim director of the commission.

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