From left to right: Steve Sparks, Director of Existing Business Resources with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission; Bob Olvey, BRTC Board of Trustees member; Tonya Haas, Regional Manager, Community Development Division of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission; Dr. Martin Eggensperger, BRTC president; Sue McGowan, BRTC Board of Trustees member; Delta Regional Authority (DRA) Federal Co-Chairman Chris Caldwell; Graycen Bigger, NEA Intermodal Authority Executive Director and BRTC Foundation board member; Clint O’Neal, Arkansas’s alternate board member for the Delta Regional Authority and the Executive Vice President of Global Business with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission; Stephanie Sutton, BRTC Foundation board chair; Mitchell Nail, representative for Congressman Rick Crawford; Gene Higginbotham, Projects Director for U.S. Senator John Boozman; and John Thomison, Lawrence County Judge
POCAHONTAS, AR Nov. 21, 2019 – On Thursday, November 21, the Delta Regional Authority (DRA) Federal Co-Chairman Chris Caldwell presented two grant awards to Black River Technical College.
“DRA is committed to investing in workforce training and education that supports job seekers, incumbent workers, and employers to help foster comprehensive economic development in Delta communities,” said DRA Federal Co-Chairman Chris Caldwell.
Also in attendance were Clint O’Neal, Arkansas’s alternate board member for the Delta Regional Authority and the Executive Vice President of Global Business with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission; Gene Higginbotham, Projects Director for U.S. Senator John Boozman; Steve Sparks, Director of Existing Business Resources with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission; and Tonya Haas, Regional Manager, Community Development Division of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission.
A grant in the amount of $100,000 was awarded to BRTC through DRA’s Delta Workforce Grant (DWG) program. According to the DRA, this program exists to provide “opportunity for rural communities to have access to critical resources in order to strengthen their workforce, create jobs, and improve quality of life across the region.”
BRTC will use the funds to purchase a truck for the new Commercial Driver License (CDL) program which began in August 2019.
“This grant will not only give those unemployed or underemployed an opportunity to learn a new profession which will pay higher than average,” said Patti Blaxton, BRTC Director of Corporate and Community Education on the Pocahontas campus, “but it will also be beneficial for our local businesses who will be able to expand their services by filling positions for qualified drivers. Many local businesses indicate the shortage of drivers has negatively impacted their business.”
A grant in the amount of $144,647 was awarded to BRTC through the States’ Economic Development Assistance Program (SEDAP). SEDAP is DRA’s flagship grant program that makes strategic investments into projects supporting basic public infrastructure, transportation improvements, workforce training and education, and business development with an emphasis on entrepreneurship. DRA coordinates directly with the Office of the Governor for the State of Arkansas and six local development districts in the state for program funding implementation.
BRTC will use the funds to purchase supplies for the registered nursing program at Arkansas Methodist Medical Center (AMMC) in Paragould.
“We are very grateful for the opportunities this grant will provide the future students of our nursing program,” said Ramonda Housh, BRTC Dean of Nursing and Allied Health. “This grant will fund vital simulation equipment that will enhance the students learning experience, resulting in a more competent nurse and a positive impact on the care provided to patients in our communities.”
For more information about the CDL program at Black River Technical College, contact Patti Blaxton at (870) 248-4181 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information the registered nursing program, contact Ramonda Housh at (870) 248-4173 or Ramonda.email@example.com.