photos by KENNETH FRY
Jim Petty receives his 2013 Iverson Riggs Memorial Citizen of the Year award plaque from Jackie Krutsch, executive director of the Van Buren Chamber of Commerce.
There was little doubt Jim Petty was surprised by being named the 2013 Iverson Riggs Memorial Citizen of the Year recipient.
For only the second time in his life, the Van Buren business leader known for serving Van Buren “whenever and wherever he goes” was speechless.
The first time was when his wife Janet surprised him with a party on his 30th birthday. The second was Thursday night when the president and chief executive officer of Strategic Realty LCC was recognized at the 58th annual Van Buren Chamber of Commerce banquet at the Commons Area of Van Buren High School.
“I am speechless,” Petty said upon reaching the podium. “I am truly honored to represent Van Buren.”
Petty said he was proud to be a member of the community and serve with others who also were deserving of the Iverson Riggs award.
“Jim devotes his time and talent to our city and our citizens by investing in the true future of Van Buren, the youth,” said Cindy Faldon, chief professional officer of the Boys and Girls Club of Van Buren, who nominated Petty.
“Jim Petty has definitely bloomed where he was planted,” Faldon said.
The Iverson Riggs Citizen of the Year Award is given to an individual or individuals who have made exemplary contributions of time, talent or resources to the community. The award was established in 1987 in memory of Iverson Riggs, founder and publisher of the Van Buren Courier newspaper.
Petty is active in the community, serving on various boards including the Van Buren Chamber of Commerce, Van Buren Boys and Girls Club, Van Buren Education Foundation and the Fort Smith Boys and Girls Club Alumni Association.
He is chamber treasurer and chairman of the chamber’s economic development committee. In March, Petty was elected president of the Arkansas Area Council, representing all boys and girls clubs in the state.
Petty and his family live in Van Buren where he is an active member of First Baptist Church. He and his wife have two children, Hannah, 22, and Logan, 17.
Petty founded Strategic Realty in 2007. He is a 25-year-real estate industry veteran having worked as a certified public account in public practice as well as a member of the executive leadership team of a large, diversified regional real estate firm with multi-state activities prior to founding Strategic Realty. His companies provide services in real estate development, redevelopment, management, construction, land development, financial feasibility analysis, financing and compliance.
He has been a panelist and speaker at numerous real estate industry conferences and symposiums. He is a member of the Arkansas Affordable Housing Association, Arkansas Society of CPAs, American Institute of CPAs, Arkansas Economic Developers and various other organizations. He is also active in the CPA profession having served in many capacities locally, statewide as well as nationally. He is the past president of the Arkansas Society of CPAs and is currently serving a three year term on the American Institute of CPA’s national council.
Faldon said Petty, the chief volunteer officer for the boys and girls club, has brought knowledge and his passion to the local club.
“There is no doubt in my mind that our club would not be where it is today without Jim’s leadership,” Faldon said.
In the summer of 2011, United Way announced it would be taking applications for a community impact grant.
“As an organization we decided to complete an application for the expansion to our facility that we were outgrowing at a rapid pace,” Faldon said. “We had less than two weeks for the application to be submitted and I was behind and lost in the application process.”
Faldon said she was ready to throw in the towel when “Jim spoke up at a board meeting and said he will do this.”
“Jim told me not to panic and he made free time the whole weekend before the application was due,” Faldon said. “His office personnel helped the following Monday morning putting together the 11 books to hand over to the United Way board of directors.”
The result of that process was the addition of more than 5,300-square-feet to the Boys and Girls Club of Van Buren.