WASHINGTON D.C. – U.S. Senator Mark Pryor today announced that eight community colleges in Arkansas will receive a total of $10.5 million to expand education and career training programs for high-skill fields, such as advanced manufacturing, transportation, healthcare, and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). This funding comes from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) Grant Program, which was authorized by the stimulus bill.
“If we want to stay competitive in today’s global economy, we need to equip our students with the needed skills, degrees, and training,” Pryor said. “Thanks to this funding, our community colleges now have the resources they need to help their students obtain high-wage, high-skill jobs in our nation’s fastest-growing industries. This is a win-win for Arkansas students and businesses.”
The Southwest Arkansas Community College Consortium, which includes seven Arkansas schools, will receive a total of $8,419,390 to help address gaps in services currently provided to businesses, create systems to ensure quick responses to business needs, and establish new regional collaborations. The schools receiving funding are as follows:
• College of the Ouachitas, Malvern: $1,801,912
• Cossatot Community College of the University of Arkansas, De Queen: $450,000
• National Park Community College, Hot Springs: $1,003,800
• Rich Mountain Community College, Mena: $300,000
• South Arkansas Community College, El Dorado: $3,904,256
• Southern Arkansas University Tech, Camden: $417,800
• University of Arkansas Community College at Hope: $541,622
Mid-South Community College in West Memphis, which is part of the Mississippi River Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics Consortium, will receive $2,000,000 to help match Arkansas workers with jobs in commerce.
“We were honored to have been asked to participate in the Mississippi River Consortium project. Certainly, we were excited to learn about the grant award and we look forward to working with our partners to create new economic development opportunities for the region. We sincerely appreciate the Department of Labor’s faith in our efforts and the support we received from Senator Pryor, Congressman Crawford, and the rest of our state’s delegation. This project will provide a tremendous opportunity to continue our work to strategically invest in educational programs that ultimately lead to great jobs for our students,” said Mr. Glen Fenter, President, Mid-South Community College.
“College of the Ouachitas is very appreciative of this funding from the U.S. Department of Labor that will address the workforce needs in both Advanced Manufacturing and Transportation. As a result of this funding, the College will be developing two new programs, Industrial and Nano Robotics, as well as Machining and Fabrication,” said Dr. Stephen Schoonmaker, President of College of the Ouachitas. “These programs will produce Machinists, Electro-Mechanical Technicians, among others – all of which have been identified by the Arkansas Economic Developers as an immediate need in the state.”
Dr. Schoonmaker continued, “In addition, the grant can enable the College to build and equip a mobile truck driving simulation lab, thus producing a much-needed truck driving workforce that is also experiencing a shortage, according to the Arkansas Economic Developers. These advancements are vital to the economic development of our local communities and region.”
“When we decided to work together as a consortium, our goal was to impact economic development through education. This grant does exactly that,” said Dr. Steve Cole, Chancellor, Cassatot Community College of the University of Arkansas. “In our area of southwest Arkansas, there is a distinct need for highly skilled workers, and this Department of Labor grant plants the focus on training those workers. UA Cossatot is proud to be part of the Southwest Arkansas Community College Consortium.”
“National Park Community College is thrilled to participate in this grant and looks forward to increasing our ability to deliver quality training to our local workforce. Garland County manufacturing and aerospace companies will benefit from this opportunity as we help to expand existing workforce, develop new workforce, and grow technical education programs that will afford students the potential to obtain high skilled/high wage careers,” said Ms. Kelli Albrecht, Director of National Park Community College Workforce Development.
“Kelli Albrecht has conducted surveys with our Garland County industries. She has worked tirelessly to provide specialized training, as well as secure equipment, that is necessary to train our students. Her work with the consortium to apply for this funding has resulted in a tremendous asset for our students and Hot Springs,” said Dr. Sally Carder, National Park Community College President. “We appreciate U.S. Senator Mark Pryor for his continued support to the education and economic growth in our region.”
“Residents of Polk, Scott, and Montgomery Counties will benefit greatly from the support provided by the TAACCCT grant through the U.S. Department of Labor. This grant award will expand Rich Mountain Community College’s educational and career training programs that will ultimately lead to more employment opportunities for the region,” said Mr. Phillip Wilson, President, Rich Mountain Community College.
“This DOL grant will enable the community colleges of southwest Arkansas to train a high quality and educated workforce for STEM positions in manufacturing industries in Arkansas,” said Dr. Barbara Jones, President, South Arkansas Community College. For South Arkansas Community College, this grant will provide the much needed resources to train a skilled workforce for the chemical, petroleum and pulp and paper industries in our region. We are so grateful for this opportunity.”
Mr. Robert Gunnels, Southern Arkansas University Tech Vice Chancellor for Academics said, “Southern Arkansas University Tech is proud to partner under this grant with our sister southwest colleges to provide much-needed skills training in advanced manufacturing programs. This effort shows what cooperation among institutions can accomplish when we focus on our important role of providing a quality, skilled workforce for southwest Arkansas.”
“We are grateful for Senator Pryor’s support of this grant and STEM education in southwest Arkansas. We believe this will go a long way in improving our ability to retain and attract jobs to Arkansas in future,” said Dr. Corbet Lamkin, Chancellor, Southern Arkansas University Tech.
“The announcement of this grant award is a monumental step forward in UACCH’s efforts to meet and enhance high-skilled, industry targeted careers and support existing and expanded economic opportunity in the region,” said Mr. Chris Thomason, Chancellor, University of Arkansas Community College at Hope.