Newsworthy happenings in Arkansas’ booming industries.
Metal Fabricator Adds 75 New Jobs in Central Arkansas
Dark Threat Fabrication is a one-stop, full-service metal fabricator located in Heber Springs. The company announced in February that it will expand its facility in Cleburne County and plans to add 75 additional jobs over the next five years. Its workforce of 20 is expected to grow to 95 new workers. In order to accommodate the growth, Dark Threat Fabrications plans to invest $7.65 million in renovations and construction, as well as purchasing additional equipment. (Arkansas Economic Development Commission)
Toro Plans to Double Batesville Business
The Toro Co. of Bloomington, Minnesota, bought Batesville mower manufacturer Intimidator Group in January and plans to invest roughly $50 million and double the company's business within the next five years or so.
Toro Chairman Rick Olson said his company is looking to leverage technologies and resources across its businesses to further innovation and provide products that better customer lives, expand product lines, reach new markets, invest in Intimidator’s Batesville facility and help Intimidator’s employees grow.
He also said Toro’s planned technology investments are mainly in three areas: electric power for its mowing products; internet-connected “smart” products; and robotic or autonomous products. Toro recently just introduced the first fully autonomous fairway mower for golf courses, Olson said.
Intimidator Group was founded by Robert and Becky Foster. It designs and manufactures Spartan Mowers, a professional zero-turn mower. (Arkansas Business)
Hytrol, Haag Brown Partner on New Facility
Hytrol and Haag Brown Commercial Real Estate & Development have partnered on a new, state-of-the-art warehouse and distribution center at E-Commerce Park. The 150,000-square-foot facility will indirectly create space for growth within the Hytrol administrative functions, including its panel shop and the company’s engineering department. Ramsons Inc. will be at the forefront of the project and has most recently worked with Hytrol’s Silver Cell expansion. The warehouse facility is projected to break ground on June 24, and the facility will complete its operation in the spring of 2023. (Rachel Lane of Hytrol and Haag Brown)
Be Pro Be Proud Draft Day: Score a Job Before High School Graduation
Seniors enrolled in Black River Technical College's Career & Technical Center were invited to attend a spring Be Pro Be Proud Draft Day event at Jonesboro High School. It was a chance to interview for openings in Arkansas skills industries.
BRTC's-own Levi Jukkola, a senior at Rector High School, accepted a position at Peco as a result of his Draft Day interviews. Jukkola began working in the maintenance department the day after his high school graduation. (Black River Technical College)
Westrock Coffee Announces Expansion to Conway
Westrock Coffee finalized the purchase of a 523,000-square-foot facility in central Arkansas that will eventually create more than 200 jobs. Using the space for the development, production and distribution of its coffees, teas and other products, Westrock will provide 50 new jobs within the first quarter of 2023 and in time will expand to approximately 250 new positions. Advanced and skilled workers are needed at the new location, and salaries will range above $100,000. (Arkansas Economic Development Commission)
ASU Offers Sports Production Certification
Arkansas State University offers certifications of proficiency for students who wish to prepare for the workforce in one to two years. Sports production can be a complex field to enter without prior knowledge and experience. With a sports production certificate, a student can gain basic knowledge of sports media and production without getting a degree. (astate.com)
Drivers & Technicians Qualify For Trucking Championship
Nine professional truck drivers and two technicians have qualified to compete for national titles after winning top spots in the 2022 Arkansas Trucking Championship. More than 100 of the best drivers and 50 of the top technicians in the state competed in a demonstration of knowledge and skill. Over the two-day event, drivers tested their skills in a pre-trip inspection competition, a written exam and a driver obstacle course. (Arkansas Trucking Association)
U.S. Steel Announces New Location in Northeast Arkansas
United States Steel Corp. selected Osceola as the site of its next-generation, sustainable and technologically advanced steel mill facility. Close to U.S. Steel’s Big River plant, the new facility will provide the most advanced technology to create the cutting-edge steel that is changing the world. The $3 billion project will bring significant benefits to customers, stockholders, communities and employees and contribute to a more sustainable world, U.S. Steel President and Chief Executive Officer David B. Burritt said. The project is expected to be complete and in full operation by 2024. (Arkansas Economic Development Commission)
Wipro Limited Opens Delivery Center
A leading global information technology, consulting and business process servicing company announced a new delivery center in Sherwood. Wipro Limited is investing $3 million to renovate a 70,000-square-foot facility into a customer service center. The company is projected to employ up to 400 Arkansans within the next two years. Wipro is globally recognized for its services, strong commitment to sustainability and good corporate citizenship, according to the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. (governor.arkansas.com)
North Little Rock Gains 90 Montrose Jobs
Montrose Environmental Group announced in August 2021 that it would relocate its headquarters from California to North Little Rock and expected to create 90 high-paying jobs. In 2020, the company acquired CTEH, an Arkansas-based scientific consulting firm that specializes in response services such as environmental data collection and management, CIS, safety and incident management. Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he was confident Montrose would find the talent it is looking for in central Arkansans.
“From a pro-business climate to an unrivaled quality of life, North Little Rock has all the pieces in place to help companies succeed,” said North Little Rock Mayor Terry Hartwick. “I am looking forward to working with the Montrose leadership for many years to come.” (Arkansas Economic Development Commission; governor.arkansas.com)
40 Businesses Join Effort to Keep Conway Students Local
Conway-area high schools, school districts and higher learning institutions are using various methods and programs to educate and prepare the workers of tomorrow, whether they are post-secondary students or not.
The Conway Area Career Center on the Conway High School campus offers Career & Technical Education certifications, programs of study and student activities, with workforce education in the fields of medical, welding, construction, culinary, auto collision, drafting and computer science.
“Students need a wide variety of opportunities to succeed in life,” said Conway Schools Superintendent Jeff Collum. “Higher education is extremely important and highly valued in our community. Workforce education is highly valued as it provides students who may not desire or plan to attend college a means of gaining a life skill or workforce skill that can ultimately propel them through life and help them be successful citizens and provide for their families.”
The CACC partners with more than 40 area businesses to help educate students on the workforce needs of local industries, and it serves approximately 1,600 high school students from Conway Christian, East-End-Bigelow, Greenbrier, Greers Ferry-West Side, Guy-Perkins, Heber Springs, Mt. Vernon-Enola, Quitman, Rosebud, South Side Bee Branch, St. Joseph and Vilonia.
Of course, the Conway area would prefer to see qualified, skilled workers use their training and education locally. The Launch Conway Fellowship is an initiative involving the University of Central Arkansas, the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce and local businesses to keep graduates in the regional workforce.(Outlook Conway)
EACC Trains First Arkansas High School CDL Student
East Arkansas Community College is delivering CDL training to high school students for the first time ever in Arkansas, and Forrest City High School student Jaquize Green is the first to complete the program and receive a CDL license (doing so in January 2022).
“We think this program can be a model for the state. It could make a significant contribution to alleviating the state’s shortage of drivers,” said Dr. Cathie Cline, President at EACC. “...we had to do something new to help open up a new supply of drivers."
Jaquize Green is the first Arkansas high school student to successfully complete a college Commercial Driver Training program. He earned his Class A commercial driver’s license.
“Never give up, never lose hope, and always be passionate about what you are going for,” said Jaquize Green. “I thought this program would be good to learn and I am looking forward to the job opportunities that will be provided with my CDL license,” he added.
Trained Class-A CDL drivers are one of the highest in-demand occupations statewide and in EACC’s service area.
The high school program lasts the entire semester to enhance safety and provide thorough instruction. The program is open to 18-year-old students who are screened into the program. (EACC/Lindsay Midkiff)
Northwest Arkansas Secures $10 Million Medical Building
Northwest Technical Institute in Springdale has received $10 million for a planned medical building. The facility will provide space for the school’s health program (which trains for technical jobs in health care) and is projected to triple the annual number of medical graduates. Funds will come from the Alice Walton Foundation, the city of Springdale and others. The school has applied for an additional $9.9 million in grants and aims to open the building in 2024. (Northwest Technical Institute)
Interested in Boats? Learn How to Build & Repair Them!
Arkansas is projected to need 10% more motorboat technicians by 2028. Gain skills in out-board and in-board boat engine maintenance, marine electronics, rigging and marina operations through Arkansas State University-Beebe’s new Marine Technology program, created in partnership with Yamaha Marine. Through this program offered at ASUB's Heber Springs campus, you can earn a technical certificate, certificate of proficiency or associate degree in general marine technology. Learn more at asub.edu/marine-technology. (bls.gov/oes, 2021)
Arkansas’ First Solar Energy Degree Program at UA Hope-Texarkana
The University of Arkansas Hope–Texarkana received approval from the UA System Board of Trustees to install a 1-megawatt solar array and learning lab on the campus, and in the spring of 2022 launched classes in the state's first solar education lab. This school offers a certificate of proficiency in solar energy technology. Courses for the certificate include photovoltaics systems, solar electric design and an installation lab. (University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana)
National Rice Month Scholarship Video Contest
Arkansas is the top rice producer in the world, so National Rice Month is a big deal in the state. September is a time to celebrate the harvest of the popular grain, but many don’t know that nearly 85% of the rice consumed by Americans is grown on family farms across Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Texas.
The National Rice Month Scholarship is an opportunity for graduating high school students in these six states to tell a story about the small but mighty grain.
Students are to create an educational and entertaining video, live or animated, no longer than 3 minutes with rice as its centerpiece. For more information about how to enter, visit reelricecontest.com. (ReelRiceContest.com)
W&W|AFCO Steel Plan Little Rock Facility
W&W|AFCO Steel purchased a Little Rock building formerly owned by LM Wind Power as part of an $18.7 million project that’s expected to create 115 jobs over the next five years. The new and improved facility provides the company with an opportunity to expand its production of steel for bridges and commercial buildings. Of its four facilities in Arkansas, three are located in Little Rock, employing more than 400 workers. (ardevelopment.com)