Arkansas Steelmaking Academy, ACT Work Ready Community in Mississippi County

Jan 31, 2018

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson.
Credit Johnathan Reaves, KASU News
Cheri Tune, Regional Manager of ACT Work Ready Communities (left), Dr. Terri Brassfield, Mississippi County Judge (center), Governor Asa Hutchinson (right) during the presentation of the ACT Work Ready Communuity plaque to Mississippi County.
Credit Johnathan Reaves, KASU News
Dr. James Shemwell, President of Arkansas Northeastern College (left), Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson (center), Doug Dunworth, President and CEO of SMS group's North American operations after the signing of the Arkansas Steelmaking Academy.
Credit Johnathan Reaves, KASU News

Two programs in Mississippi County are designed to bring more jobs to Northeast Arkansas.  Governor Asa Hutchinson went Blytheville Wednesday for the announcements, which center around the county’s growing steel industry. 

A partnership between Arkansas Northeastern College and SMS group is complete, which sets the stage for the Arkansas Steelmaking Academy.  The Academy will start in the county’s high schools as it will introduce students to potential jobs in the industry.  Those who want to pursue careers will receive their training at a new building under construction on the campus of Arkansas Northeastern College in Blytheville.  Those who graduate then can start working at Nucor Steel and Tenaris in Blytheville, Big River Steel in Osceola, as well as manufacturers across the country.  Governor Hutchinson.

“Mississippi County is one of the leading steel producing counties in the nation,” says Hutchinson.  “Whether I go to China, Europe, Mexico, or Japan, I talk about what is taking place here in this county.  It is exciting for me as Governor to market what is going on here and there are future opportunities in this county, but you have to lead in workforce training to do that.”

That call for workforce training led to the second announcement.  Mississippi County is the first in the state that has become certified as a First ACT Work Ready Community.  The certification will help with economic development and industry recruitment by linking workforce development to education and employers’ needs.  Cheri Tune is Regional Manager with A-C-T Work Ready Communities.

“This says to employers that this county is serious about helping the county grow,” says Tune.  “Partnerships have been formed between the leaders in the community relating to workforce and economic development.  For the businesses, it shows a supply of work-ready workers.”

Part of the workforce training will include getting people ready to go to work in what profession they choose, including the growing steel industry.  Over 5,000 people work in the steel industry in Arkansas, 3,000 of those are from Mississippi County.