Newport’s Tech Depot wins Star of the Southwest Award

by George Jared ([email protected]) 74 views 

The U.S. Economic Development Administration’s Austin Regional Office awarded Newport’s Tech Depot Project the Star of the Southwest Award. White River Planning and Development District, the Newport Economic Development Office, the city of Newport and Jackson County were recognized for this award at the recent SWREDA Annual Conference.

Tech Depot joined winners from five other states.

SWREDA introduced the Star of the Southwest Awards at its 2017 conference in Baton Rouge, and now each year at its annual conference, SWREDA recognizes projects funded by the Austin EDA Regional Office that demonstrate significant economic impact for the community, a meaningful commitment by the private sector, and a return on investment for EDA. The SWREDA board members from each state solicit project applications and award one project for that state which is presented and showcased at the conference.

The winners are from Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.

The Tech Depot project resulted from a grant submitted to EDA by the White River Planning and Development District on behalf of the Newport Economic Development Commission. The project included a $2.5 million grant from EDA, a $645,000 match by the Newport Economic Development Commission and $495,000 in donations by local businesses and individuals. Tech Depot started as a collaboration between the Newport Economic Development Commission, ASU-Newport and the Arkansas Center for Data Sciences.

The list of partners has grown exponentially since Tech Depot opened in a temporary home in 2020.

Tech Depot started offering training in the new facility in January of 2024 with a goal of having a daily count of those receiving training reaching 500 by December of 2024. The goal has been bested with a daily count of over 1,100 in the first half of the year. The training has covered a wide range including office skills, drone technology, corrections officer training, industrial maintenance recertification, small business development consulting, CPR for small business, transitioning from recovery to employment, ACT Bootcamp and much more.