North Arkansas College Breaks Ground on $8M Robotics & Manufacturing Center


Gov. Asa Hutchinson attends the groundbreaking ceremony for the North Arkansas College Center for Robotics & Manufacturing Innovation.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson attends the groundbreaking ceremony for the North Arkansas College Center for Robotics & Manufacturing Innovation. (North Arkansas College)
State and local officials join North Arkansas College administrators at the groundbreaking ceremony for the school's new Center for Robotics & Manufacturing Innovation.
State and local officials join North Arkansas College administrators at the groundbreaking ceremony for the school's new Center for Robotics & Manufacturing Innovation. (North Arkansas College)
A rendering of the Center for Robotics and Manufacturing Innovation planned for Northark in Harrison.
A rendering of the Center for Robotics and Manufacturing Innovation planned for Northark in Harrison. (Northark)

North Arkansas College in Harrison on Monday broke ground on its new Center for Robotics & Manufacturing Innovation, an $8 million project that's the first of its kind on a community college campus in the state.

The 32,500-SF facility will include classrooms and labs for the college's automation, manufacturing, machining and electronics programs, along with an innovation hub for local business and industry training. 

The project was funded by a $3 million grant from the state, a $2 million Economic Development Administration grant, $700,000 from the Boone County Economic Development Committee, and a $100,000 Economic Development Grant from Harrison. Remaining funds were provided by North Arkansas College and private donors.

Risley & Associates of Fort Smith was selected to design the facility. The project is expected to be completed in fall 2024.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson is among those who attended the groundbreaking ceremony Monday. “These are exciting times for Arkansas when we see this growth in Harrison,” he said. “This opens up a world of opportunity for the young people in our state.”

Wabash National Corp. of Lafayette, Indiana said the new center will have a direct impact on the industrial manufacturing company's operations in Harrison. “This facility will enable Wabash to train employees without having to send them out-of-state, saving us both time and money," Jason Patience, Harrison plant manager, said in a news release.

Micki Somers, the college's director of marketing and public relations, told Arkansas Business in January that the new facility is being built to change students' negative perception of manufacturing as a career path.

“We're doing it because manufacturing has a perception of being a hot and sweaty trade to go into," she said. "We really want a facility that portrays a high-tech image for these careers to change the perception of students because we've seen that a lot of them aren’t entering those careers, and we've got so many jobs that are unfilled."


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