The U.S. Economic Development Administration was awarded Friday (Oct. 23) a $2.5 million grant to the University of Arkansas–Pulaski Technical College to launch the first phase of its STEM Park Project on the college’s main campus in North Little Rock.
UA-PTC will provide $653,230 in matching funds to remodel its existing Science building, labs, and classrooms.
“This is an incredible gift and opportunity for our college and for the State. It’s a huge win for students who receive training for STEM careers and a win for businesses with access to a deeper pool of trained employees.” said UA-PTC Chancellor Margaret Ellibee. “UA-PTC’s existing laboratory spaces can no longer serve student demand for our STEM classes, and we are turning away 200-300 students per semester due to inadequate and outdated facilities.”
The goal of the UA-PTC STEM Park Project is to ensure that UA-PTC will continue to be an integral partner in providing the highly skilled employees needed to maintain and grow the STEM-related professions and industries in Arkansas.
UA-PTC’s STEM programs, which include allied health-related careers, advanced manufacturing, business/IT, and cybersecurity tracks, contribute to the central Arkansas technological workforce.
According to state government data, there is a current demand for nearly 3,300 skilled workers in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields in Arkansas, yet the existing workforce is less than 2,800 workers – a shortage of over 500 employees. This workforce gap is projected to grow to over 2,000 STEM employees by 2023 and will only continue to expand over the next decade.
UA-PTC’s STEM Park Project is expected to help meet demand by adding 400-600 employees to Arkansas’ workforce annually over the next nine years.
The proposed $10 million STEM Park Project will include a three-phased scope of work:
- Phase One, being funded by the EDA grant, will be a complete remodel of the current science building.
- Phase Two will add the construction of a new two-story addition adjoined to the current science building structure.
- Phase Three involves a skybridge that will join the existing Science building with the current Business/IT building, allowing for quicker and easier access to classes for students.