Fayetteville Looking Ahead With Green Jobs Training Center (Workforce Development | Honorable Mention, 20,000+)

As a college town to the core, Fayetteville likes to think of itself as a funky, forward-thinking city.

The city certainly was thinking ahead when it led an effort resulting in the creation of the Fayetteville Center of Excellence for green job training. The center is administered by NorthWest Arkansas Community College, but the road to its creation was paved by the city of Fayetteville, led by a partnership of public and private officials who secured the federal funds to make it happen.

The center, along with a sister facility in Little Rock run by Pulaski Technical College, trains Arkansans for energy efficiency jobs. Last year, it introduced a mobile unit for on-location workforce training.

That commitment to its workforce earned Fayetteville recognition as a 2013 Arkansas Business City of Distinction for workforce development in cities of more than 20,000.

Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan said the devastating ice storm that crippled Fayetteville and Northwest Arkansas in 2009 spurred the city to think ahead even more.

“One of our administrative goals became finding a way to help put people back to work in jobs that pay a living wage, grow energy efficiency jobs and opportunities, and do our city’s part to assure that Fayetteville and Northwest Arkansas are equipped with people skilled to do the work in a field of future high demand,” he said. “Working with city staff and members of the community and region, the idea was to foster collaboration and partnerships from various stakeholders, capitalizing on the brain power that is prevalent but often untapped in Arkansas, to make this happen.”

The program at the centers trains workers as specialists in energy efficiency and conservation techniques. Jordan said the city sees several benefits, including the relevant job training of residents in a growing workforce area, more opportunity for employment and a greater ability for home and business owners to locally find quality energy auditors and energy-project contractors.

“Since energy efficiency has long been an interest to the Fayetteville community, wide support was given to this initiative and center,” Jordan said. “Additional opportunities for economic development partnerships also stemmed from it.”