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UACCB breaks ground on new workforce training center

Despite the chilly, windy weather, a crowd of community business leaders and campus faculty and staff gathered on the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville  (UACCB) campus to break ground on the new workforce training center Jan. 17 on the northeast corner of campus.

Stacy Gunderman, director of administration at FutureFuel Chemical Company and chair of the UACCB board of visitors, said that the groundbreaking ceremony was only the beginning.

“UACCB has never been an institution that stood still. It is always growing. It is always evolving, and it is dedicated to serving the community. I challenge other local employers to now do our part in the form of donations, feedback on curriculum, and providing internships for students who will be educated at this facility and become our future workforce,” Gunderman said.

“This day has arrived because of the ‘can-do’ culture that is UACCB,” said UACCB Chancellor Deborah Frazier. The 15,000 square-foot training center would house welding, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, and mechatronics programs along with a makerspace that Frazier said the college hoped would “be a home away from home for tinkers, techies, and teachers to collaborate and turn their dreams into realities.” The $2.5 million training center will also be a space for the college to provide instruction in its secondary area career center programs.

Fennell Purifoy Architects provided the design for the facility, and Provence Construction won the bid for construction. Phil Purifoy answered questions from the board of visitors at their quarterly meeting which followed the groundbreaking ceremony.

“We’ve worked with the campus for more than 25 years, and we are proud to work with UACCB on this project,” Purifoy said.

He noted the workforce training center would have classroom and lab space. Purifoy said the shop area within the center would be very flexible and able to adapt and evolve with program needs over time. The exterior design of the building will compliment that of the other buildings on campus. Plans for improved drainage were also taken into consideration. Purifoy said the project is estimated to take 10-12 months to complete and that construction would begin as soon as possible weather permitting.

UACCB workforce center groundbreaking1.jpgPictured from left are former Sen. Steve Bell; Rep. Stu Smith; Gerald Provence, owner of Provence Construction; Phil Purifoy with Fennell Purifoy Architects; Steve Green, UACCB board of visitors member; UACCB Chancellor Deborah Frazier; Stacy Gunderman, UACCB board of visitors chair; and UACCB board of visitors members Mark Skelton, Mike Arnold, Stan Fretwell, and Dr. Maggie Williams.
UACCB workforce center groundbreaking 2.jpgPictured from left are Greg Thornburg, vice chancellor for student affairs; Zach Harber, director of career and technical education; Dr. Brian Shonk, vice chancellor for academic affairs; Chancellor Deborah Frazier; Gayle Cooper, vice chancellor for finance and administration; and Dr. Anne Austin, vice chancellor for research, planning, and assessment.
UACCB groundbreaking 3.jpgFrom left Zach Harber, Gayle Cooper, and Dr. Brian Shonk stand with an artist rendering of the new workforce training center on display at a reception following the groundbreaking ceremony for the center.

Article By Hannah Keller Flanery
UACCB Communications and Marketing Coordinator

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