NEWPORT — Tech Depot, 250 Hazel St., has already trained more than 200 people in new technology and office skills.
They are also forming partnerships and collaborations with organizations in Jackson County to expand opportunities. The Tech Depot effort started with consulting services provided by G.B. Cazes with Emory Solutions who agreed to brainstorm with the Newport Economic Development Commission on how to bring technology jobs to Newport and Northeast Arkansas.
Working with the Arkansas Center for Data Sciences, Tech Depot is offering apprenticeship opportunities with regional technology companies.
Working with ASU-Newport, it is offering training for individuals who would like to upgrade their technology skills. There are scholarships available for Jackson County residents through the Newport Area Chamber of Commerce through funding provided by Jackson County.
The Depot will soon provide training opportunities that include free childcare and transportation as part of the educational package. Working with the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, this avenue will be available to three targeted populations free of charge, single parents with at least one child under 18 who make less than $35,000 per year; individuals who are in a substance abuse recovery program; and individuals who are in a program transitioning from incarceration.
Through Arkansas State University-Newport, classes in Microsoft Office, Workplace Leadership, Microsoft Excel, OSHA Training, CAD/CAM, and more are available to businesses or individuals. Microsoft has supplied free training licenses for Tech Depot through the Downtown Revitalization and Improvement Effort nonprofit.
Working with the Newport School District and ASU-Newport, STEM education to young people from middle school up is available with classes and camps in robotics, micro:bit coding, 3D Printing, and more.
The Arkansas Office of Skills Development has provided a complete CompTIA A+ hardware and software lab that is being used in CompTIA A+ training for individuals interested in IT-intensive careers.
The Depot is also researching the possibility of offering regional training on the maintenance and operation of servers related to crypto mining.
An Economic Development Administration grant is being used to construct a $3.1 million building. A Delta Regional Authority grant is constructing a new parking lot. White River Planning and Development District has assisted in writing and administering these grants and the City of Newport is providing the necessary bookkeeping.
Over $100,000 in equipment and supplies have been purchased and monthly classes are being offered. Investors for various projects are being sought with naming-rights sponsorships available.
For more information contact Jon Chadwell, executive director of economic development for the Newport Economic Development Commission, at [email protected] or 870-523-1009.