BCEDC partners with Northark

Fri Aug 11, 2017 at 10:57 AM

group signing

Photo cutline: Dr. Randy Esters, president of North Arkansas College and BCEDC Board Chairman Craig Campbell (seated) signed a public-private partnership agreement to support workforce training. Shown from L to R: Northark Trustee David Evans, Trustee Chris McNew, Trustee R.G. Earnest, Dr. Rodney Arnold, vice president of Institutional Advancement, Northark Board Chair Jane Adair, Trustee Sara Jo Fendley, Trustee and BCEDC member Scott Miller, Layne Ragland, BCEDC member, Tavonda Brown, dean of Student Services, Ken Reeves, BCEDC member, Dr. Donna Wood, vice president for Academic & Student affairs, Cathy Brandt, BCEDC member, Jane Christenson, BCEDC member and Don Sugg, vice president for Finance & Administration.

Educators and industry leaders are joining forces to see if Boone County needs a new Workforce Center.  They share a collaborative vision to create and nurture a growing, highly-skilled, and diverse pipeline of employees for business and industry.    

Craig Campbell, Board Chair of The Boone County Economic Development Corporation (BCEDC) and North Arkansas College President, Dr. Randy Esters, inked a public-private agreement in which BCEDC will provide $20K annually for two years to conduct a Workforce Center feasibility study and support workforce training. The study will be completed within one year.  If the study gives the thumbs up for a Workforce Center, BCEDC will give an additional third payment of $20K to help ensure operational success. According to the agreement, the funds will be made payable to the Northark Foundation. 

Craig Campbell, BCEDC Board Chairman said the partnership is a team effort, “BCEDC and Northark believe in Boone County. We are actively working together to attract and increase the skilled workforce for the new age of manufacturing.  We’re looking to hit a home run to benefit our families, friends and neighbors who are improving their lives through education and training.”

Northark is currently seeking an Associate Vice President of Economic and Workforce Development to develop, and implement effective workforce training initiatives. A top priority includes conducting the feasibility study.  Other job duties include oversight of a technical skills training center in collaboration with local industries and the BCEDC.  The new AVP position was created to add an additional layer to workforce training that is nimble, industry-driven and self-supportive.  He or she will work to create synergy between new workforce training opportunities and current offerings at the Northark Technical Center and technical programs located on the North Campus. BCEDC member, Cathy Brandt, will represent BCEDC on the Search Committee. 

The feasibility study will provide insight into the funding model that is most viable. Funding sources for the center will likely include industry-driven training, grants and public-private partnerships.

Northark has placed heightened emphasis on workforce development over the last two years. The College has implemented a $1 million regional workforce grant that has purchased $400,000 of high-tech equipment and robots. The grant provided substantial advertising funds to communicate college programs, upgraded environments and high-wage jobs available in manufacturing and healthcare.  A new die-casting cell that exactly replicates the one at PACE Industries was built on the North Campus, and most recently approval of the new Associate Vice President of Economic and Workforce Development position that reports directly to the President, Dr. Randy Esters.

Esters says the College is focused on filling the workforce gap, “A new study by Georgetown University’s Center for Education and the Workforce released last month reported 30 million jobs in the U.S. don’t require a four-year college degree and pay an average salary of $55,000 a year!  Many jobs need high school plus some additional training that doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree.  As a local community college, Northark is the bridge between high school and a four-year degree and we are also the gateway to good paying careers in industry.  We can offer customized short-term workforce training, associates degrees and certificates that save businesses money because they don’t have to send employees out of town for training and students a significant amount of money while giving them higher credentials to earn higher wages.”

The new Workforce Center, if feasible, will serve secondary and postsecondary students in the area. It will be a model of collaboration and innovation that is a hub of high technology, world-class training.

North Arkansas College is committed to providing an educational and work environment for its students, faculty, and staff that is free from sexual discrimination including sexual harassment, sexual assault, and sexual violence. No form of sexual discrimination will be tolerated. See the full North Arkansas College Title IX Policy and Procedures for the specific definitions of sexual harassment and sexual violence, including examples of such conduct.