Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Nov. 15 the creation of the Arkansas Manufacturing Workforce Training Center, a joint venture between the Arkansas Office of Skills Development and the Conway Development Corporation. The facility will be located in Conway, making it easily accessible to companies throughout the state.
“Manufacturing is key to the Arkansas economy,” Hutchinson said. “So, when we found out that many of our state’s employers were sending their employees to other states to get the training they needed for Arkansas jobs, we knew that we had to remedy the situation. The Arkansas Manufacturing Workforce Training Center will be able to keep Arkansas employers and Arkansas employees in state to be trained where they can further contribute to our local and state economies. I want to thank the Conway Development Corporation and the Career Education Workforce Development Board for helping get this project off the ground.”
“We are thrilled that Conway will be home to the Arkansas Manufacturing Workforce Training Center,” said Corey Parks, vice president of economic development for Conway Development Corporation. “For 131 years, our community has welcomed young people from across Arkansas to begin their higher education journey. We are honored to continue this history of preparing the state’s workforce by hosting incumbent workers in Conway to develop skills that will impact their futures and their communities.”
The 100,000-square-foot center will focus on computer numerically controlled machinery, automation, robotics, industrial maintenance, craft skills, plastic injection molding, and other customized technical needs of Arkansas companies. Training will be available for both incumbent workers and new hires, as well as upskilling unemployed individuals to better prepare the manufacturing workforce in Arkansas.
“The Arkansas Manufacturing Workforce Center will not only contribute to enhancing the Arkansas workforce, but it will also be a job creator,” said Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston. “We will be better able to support our existing manufacturing companies as they keep their employees up to date on current skills, but it will also act as one more tool in our tool kit in attracting new and expanding businesses to the state looking for a talented and skilled workforce.”
The project is estimated to cost between $35 to $40 million. Companies are currently being surveyed by the Office of Skills Development as they move forward with the design architecture phase of the project.
The center will be located at Conway’s Central Landing, the 151-acre, mixed-use redevelopment of the city’s former airport. It will join the City of Conway’s $27.3 million community and aquatic center as anchors for the site. Central Landing — owned by the Conway Development Corporation — will feature residential, office, entertainment, recreational, dining, and retail uses.
The Arkansas Office of Skills Development is asking for community input on what a statewide manufacturing workforce training and research center should include. Complete the survey at the link.