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Arkansas Lawmakers Announce Federal Grant for Fort Smith

The U.S. Department of Commerce awarded grant to Fort Smith Public Schools to support development of Career Technology Center; Rep. Womack and local officials gathered at the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce to announce the investment

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Washington, September 30, 2019 | comments

Fort Smith, AR— September 30, 2019….Congressman Steve Womack (AR-3), U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR), and Governor Asa Hutchinson (R-AR) today announced that Fort Smith will receive $1.4 million in federal grant funding from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA). The investment will support the development of the Fort Smith Public Schools Career Technology Center (CTC), a state-of-the-art facility that will feature specialized lab spaces and classrooms for courses in manufacturing, healthcare, and information technology.

Congressman Womack said, “Workforce development programs are vital to preparing students for the jobs of the 21st century. This funding will allow Fort Smith Public Schools to create a state-of-the-art facility that will equip Arkansans with the firsthand experience and training they need to succeed. The center will develop our pipeline of skilled workers and promote strong technical education in our great state. Smart investments like this will provide long-term benefits, and I thank the Trump Administration for their work to support Fort Smith.”

“Training and equipping more Arkansans with skills for jobs in technology, manufacturing and health care industries is vital for the state and our workforce,” said Senator Boozman. “This investment in the Career Technology Center will position Fort Smith students for opportunities to fill in-demand positions that offer competitive wages and solid career prospects. I’m pleased this grant is utilizing public-private partnerships and the Opportunity Zone incentives to help address the need for more technical and skills-based training in the region.”

Senator Tom Cotton said, “The Career Technology Center in Fort Smith will prepare Arkansans for specialized jobs in advanced manufacturing, health care, and information technology. I’m proud that Fort Smith was awarded this grant, which will allow hard-working Arkansans to take the next step forward in their careers.”

“Today’s announcement is great news for the Fort Smith community and for Arkansas’s workforce,” said Governor Hutchinson. “This investment in the career technology center will not only spur economic development, but it will also create opportunities for Arkansans to develop skill sets, which will attract employers.”

Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said, “Through the work of American Workforce Policy Advisory Board, the Opportunity Zones, and projects like the new Career Technology Center, the Trump Administration is committed to ensuring American workers have the technical training and skills for innovative and cutting-edge jobs. The new Center will offer pathways in a variety of technology sectors, supporting Arkansas’ growth in advanced manufacturing, health care, and more.”

The funding, which was announced during an event at the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce, will allow Fort Smith to repurpose an existing warehouse to create a center that will provide an enhanced learning environment in the areas of science, technology, engineering, arts, and manufacturing. The CTC will support local technical education, prepare students for 21st century jobs, and expand the pipeline of skilled workers in the region.

“We are very grateful and excited to have been awarded this $1.4 million EDA grant for the development of a new career and technology center at the site generously donated by the William L. Hutcheson Trust at the corner of Zero and Painter Lane in Fort Smith,” said Dr. Doug Brubaker, Fort Smith Public Schools Superintendent. “This state-of-the-art facility will connect students with opportunities in advanced manufacturing, healthcare, and information technology careers with a focus on engaging instruction in the science, technology, education, art, and math (STEAM) disciplines. This will lead to the retention and expansion of employment opportunities in our state. We are grateful to Congressman Womack, Senator Boozman, and our partners across the River Valley who continue to support this initiative. We look forward to seeing this important project take shape.”

The project was made possible by the regional planning efforts led by the Western Arkansas Planning and Development District (WAPDD). Other supportive partners, including Fort Smith Public Schools, the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce, and local and federal government offices, also discussed the importance of the project at today’s grant announcement event.

The EDA grant, which is located near a Tax Cuts and Jobs Act designated Opportunity Zone, will be matched with $8.53 million in local funds. It is expected to help create 165 jobs and retain 260 jobs. Learn more here.

Congressman Steve Womack (AR-3) has represented Arkansas’s Third Congressional District since 2011. He serves as the Ranking Member of the House Committee on the Budget and is a member of the House Appropriations defense and transportation, housing and urban development subcommittees.



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