El Dorado News

Saturday
December 16, 2017
El Dorado News Times

Significant progress in SouthArk’s AMTC construction project

By Brittany Williams
This article was published November 5, 2017 at 5:00 a.m.

A late spring opening is anticipated for South Arkansas Community College’s Advanced Manufacturing Training Center (AMTC) on East Campus.

The 14,000 square-foot training center that was “eight years in the making” will be the headquarters for SouthArk’s process technology, advanced welding and industrial technology programs. The new center is part of the college’s response to industry needs that also include the Certified Kitchen Cook classes and Hands-on Training Unit, according to previous News-Times reports.

“The facility will offer classrooms and laboratories, inside and out, for training chemical process operators, mechanical-electrical technicians, welders and other industry-related workers for our region. The increased need for multi-skilled technicians for the workforce in the region have helped to drive this project,” said college President Barbara Jones.

SouthArk Foundation Board President and El Dorado Chemical Plant Manager Greg Withrow has been instrumental in the fundraising, educational and conceptual efforts for the college’s aforementioned programs and the AMTC.

“El Dorado Chemical Company has a need for advanced training and education for our local workforce. We are committed to training people for future opportunities,” Withrow said. “The Charles A. Hays Advanced Manufacturing Training Center will provide instructional technology to build the skills that our current and future employees need for our high-paying industrial and technical jobs. We recognize the relationship between a skilled workforce and economic growth and believe that our investment in this facility will yield long-term success in the future economic development of south Arkansas.”

SouthArk’s last public update regarding the AMTC, named after The Systems Group founder Charles A. Hays, was during a Board of Trustees meeting in mid-September.

The college was waiting for a crane to install the rail car and a crew would start framing the metal building by this month. The rail and building pad were complete with site utilities and grading near completion, Vice President of Finance and Administration Carey Tucker said.

“The foundation has been poured and the cinder block walls, which are scheduled to finished next month, are going up now. The steel for the building frame will be delivered next week. The rail line has been laid and the tanker set,” said Heath Waldrop, SouthArk director of marketing and public relations.

Among entities who’ve contributed to the construction project is the Southeast Arkansas Planning and Development District, the City of El Dorado, Georgia-Pacific Crossett Paper Operations, El Dorado Chemical and Martin Resource Management. On Oct. 31, Canfor Southern Pine announced its $25,000 donation to the cause of “supporting the skilled training necessary for its current and future workforce and to support the economic growth of the region.”

Canfor Southern Pine President Fred Stimpson said, “Canfor Southern Pine is growing our workforce in El Dorado and Urbana which will greatly benefit from the graduates of these facilities, but we are also proud to help strengthen the skilled workforce available for industries in the area.”

While she thanks all contributors, including Canfor, Jones said that project has “broad local industry input and support.”

“We are so grateful for the partnership, support and donation from Canfor Southern Pine for the Charles A. Hays Advanced Manufacturing Training Center … The partnership with Canfor and other area industries demonstrates the important role of cooperative relationships between business and industry with community colleges to prepare a quality, safe, knowledgeable and trained workforce,” Jones said.

Brittany Williams may be reached at 870-862-6611 or bwilliams@eldoradonews.com. Follow her on Twitter and like her on Facebook @BWilliamsEDNT for updates on Union County school news.

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