Back in February, Governor Mike Beebee announced the launch of two green-collar training facilities in Arkansas – one at Pulaski Technical College in North Little Rock and one at NWACC in Northwest Arkansas, funded by over $2.5 million of stimulus money from the federal government.
On Wednesday, the Northwest Arkansas facility, called the NWACC Center of Excellence was dedicated during a ribbon cutting ceremony at their location off Joyce Blvd. in Fayetteville.
The center will initially focus on five courses, with an emphasis on energy efficiency training for contractors, building inspectors, and HVAC technicians. Officials plan to expand the offerings to include other areas of training in the future. Enrollment has already started and classes begin in July.
Most courses offered at the facility will take between five and 10 eight-hour classes to complete, and will cost between $300-$1300. Rick Mayes, Director of Building Sciences for NWACC said that there is a lot of financial aid available for those interested in taking part in the training.
“There are some incentives built into our grant. There are stipends and scholarships that will certainly either help offset that cost or cover the cost,” Mayes said. “Ultimately, we’re all the ones that are going to benefit when your HVAC contractor can offer ratings and auditing and those type of things in your home.”
Mayes also said that there are currently several tax incentives and rebates – available through President Obama’s economic stimulus package – for those who want to make their homes more energy efficient.
NWACC President Dr. Becky Paneitz said that planning for the new center began soon after Mayor Lioneld Jordan took office.
“I had a chance to meet with the mayor right after he was elected to talk about how NWACC could help him in the City of Fayetteville,” Paneitz said. “He told me right off the bat that he wanted to create good jobs for the City of Fayetteville and Northwest Arkansas. He really thought that green jobs and energy-related jobs were where it was at.”
Paneitz said that the three fastest growing sectors nationally are green jobs, health care, and technology, and that it’s very important for Northwest Arkansas to have individuals trained in these areas of study.
“We intend for our center to be on the forefront of energy efficiency training and sustanability, and to continue to provide a well educated workforce for the future of Arkansas and the country,” Paneitz said.