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UAFS receives $734,000 'jobs driven' grant

The University of Arkansas at Fort Smith received a $734,000 grant by the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services that will be used to train veterans and unemployed area residents in commercial driving, medical billing and coding and industrial maintenance.

The Center for Business and Professional Development at UAFS received the Arkansas Job Driven National Emergency Grant, along with several other organizations which combined received nearly $2.5 million in an effort to provide collaborative services to nearly 400 people in the Fort Smith area.

“We’re targeting areas where we know there will be demand for workers,” CBPD Director Dave Robertson said.

“What excites me the most is that the Department of Labor wanted the entities that worked with them on this grant to have proven programs in place that could quickly provide job-specific training in areas where they feel people can find employment. Getting chosen for this grant is a confirmation of the work we’ve been doing at the CBPD for years.”

The project “demonstrates our university’s commitment to workforce training and education at all levels," said Ken Warden, associate vice chancellor for workforce development at UAFS.

“This grant is an excellent way for someone who needs short-term training to find employment and enhance the lives of their family. The expertise of the faculty and staff at the CBPD is tremendous. They recognized this grant opportunity and designed a proposal that is uniquely suited to help companies in our region, as well as those seeking gainful employment.”

The program, which also provides pre-employment training in professional etiquette, teamwork, customer service, problem solving and time management, will also work with local employers to provide on-the-job training.

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“This is a great example of how UAFS as a comprehensive university is marrying the employment needs of our citizens with the workforce needs of local employers,” said Dr. Paul Beran, chancellor at UAFS.

The Western Arkansas Planning and Development District will help find qualifying participants to receive money from the grant with Winrock International case managers coordinating enrollment and support services, a press release said.

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