Northwest Technical Institute (NWTI) in Springdale has been adjusting its budget for an upcoming project and jumping through hoops for another as it works to improve its exterior look.
“Right now, it’s that same building that you saw in 1975, and there hadn’t been that interest in prettying up,” NWTI President Blake Robertson said. “It is a technical school, but still we can paint. And we’ve done a quite a bit inside. But it’s that outer look, the façade. First impression is everlasting. What we want to do is have that look that says, ‘Oh, I would like to go there.’”
Robertson cited recent studies commissioned by the Northwest Arkansas Council and the Springdale Chamber of Commerce recommending façade improvements. With $1 million, NWTI could install a pitched roof, paint the exterior a lighter color and install new windows or shutters, he said.
“The look and feel at Northwest Technical Institute does not positively reflect the work and working conditions of middle-income jobs,” according to the Northwest Arkansas Council report. “It also does not reflect the world-class image the region wishes to project. To reach the ultimate goal of being a Heartland leader for middle skills technical training, a place where students are attracted from a multistate area due to the quality of the training, modern, best-in-class, facilities are needed.”
NWTI will soon break ground on a 13,000-square-foot building for its welding program, Robertson said. The initial bid was $300,000 over the budget of $2.6 million, and the school is making some adjustments to reduce the cost.
Also, the school looks to break ground this summer on a 19,000-square-foot building for the ammonia refrigeration program. The school has received $2.5 million in donations from industry partners, $1 million from the governor’s office and $1 million from Springdale-based meat producer Tyson Foods, Robertson said. Because the school deposited some of the money into its general fund, he said, it must follow the guidelines for state building services.