(Editor's Note: Each year, Arkansas Business partners with the Arkansas Municipal League to present the Trendsetter City awards, which recognize exceptional initiatives underway in municipalities across the state. Large, medium and small-sized cities were honored in six categories: Diversity and Inclusion; Education/Workforce Development; Infrastructure and Water; Public Works/Environmental and Green Management; Technology and Security; and Tourism Development/Creative Culture. Below is one winner's story. For more, click here.)
Winner • 20,000 or Greater
Mayor: Harold Copenhaver
The Growing Talent Together program is credited with inspiring the Northeast Arkansas Career and Technical Center’s Robotics and Automation Technologies program, a high school course that trains students through programs and certifications with technical skills in conjunction with local business and industry.
The Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce and economic development organization Jonesboro Unlimited wanted a comprehensive talent development system of critical initiatives to develop and maintain a prepared, engaged and productive workforce. They sought ways to have a more significant impact on the workforce of the community as well as to develop new projects that would also benefit and improve the community. With a number of local schools and a thriving economy with a strong manufacturing element, the setting was ripe for developing the next generation of workers.
This year Jonesboro teamed with Be Pro Be Proud and its mobile workshop, a full-sized, expanding semi-tractor trailer with technology that allows students to have technological experiences ranging from driving a semi to operating excavators.
A number of programs and initiatives were developed. TekStarz Summer Manufacturing Camp is an immersive experience for junior high students; Growing Talent Together brings employers and students together; Junior Leadership is a networking program for high school juniors; Student Recognition awards K-6 students overcoming adversity; Industry Educator Externship provides a four-day experience at local manufacturers; Manufacturing Day is held each October; Get to Know Jonesboro is a retention project and Be Pro Be Proud Draft Day connects students with employers needing technical and skilled trades workers.