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NWACC is Designed to Serve the Northwest Arkansas Community
Northwest Arkansas (NWA) is growing rapidly – according to the Northwest Arkansas Council, the region is on pace to become one of the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan statistical areas. With such growth comes economic gain, an increase in job opportunities, new infrastructure, buildings and amenities, as well as improved healthcare, all resulting in a better quality of life. NWACC plays a key role in the various initiatives that continue to make the NWA community one of the best places to live in the U.S.
As a community college, NWACC is designed to serve the community. “We pay close attention
to what the community needs are and to what students’ needs are,” said NWACC President
Dr. Jorgenson. “One of the things that community colleges do well is respond quickly.
We can make things happen. We can develop programs that fulfill the needs of our community
and students quickly.”
Local & State Economy
In the 2017 – 2018 academic year, NWACC served over 15,000 students, equating to almost 3% of the NWA population. Current NWACC students live and work in the area and thousands of alumni pursue bachelor’s degrees throughout Arkansas, contributing revenue to the local and state economy.
“Over 90% of our graduates stay within the community, so we really are serving our local community,” said Dr. Jorgenson.
NWACC’s investments on campus also have a direct impact on Arkansas businesses and communities. Most recently, the college partnered with Arkansas-based construction contractors, Nabholz and Milestone, to build the new Integrated Design Lab (IDL) and the Washington County facility. The buildings will hold an increase in students and offer education for in-demand careers in construction, computer-aided design, fine arts and business as well as nursing and emergency medical responders. As the college accommodates student growth, area businesses who serve students and visitors also experience an increase in revenue as a result.
The Integrated Design Lab
NWACC is the community resource for post-secondary education, workforce development classes, skilled trades programs, adult education and enrichment classes, as well as the LIFE program and Early College Experience courses for high school students. With over 55 degrees and certificates community members can follow a career path into fields such as business, computer science, communications, culinary, nursing, engineering, criminal justice and more.
“We have a large portion of students who want to transfer to a four-year institution, so we offer a general education transfer degree,” said Dr. Jorgenson. “We also have a large portion who want a two-year degree and want to go straight into the workforce, and we know there are workforce needs in our community. It’s a perfect match.”
The college’s Workforce & Economic Development division is structured to create a pipeline of talent to enter into the workforce. Programs range from business and professional development to project management, plumbing, HVAC and electrical apprenticeships, construction, robotics and retail analysts.
NWACC’s Certified Retail Analysts (CRA) program fills the need of one of the largest industry leaders in northwest Arkansas - Walmart. The CRA program is designed to provide solution-based analyst training that sharpens problem-solving skills and strategic and critical thought processes. Classes are taught by experienced supplier retail professionals who ensure the training fits the changing needs of Walmart and the supplier community.
Cameron Smith, CEO of Cameron Smith and Associates, speaking about NWACC's Certified Retail Analyst program.
Infrastructure, Buildings and Amenities
From commuting on interstate 49, to popping open your laptop at 5th Street Offices, and enjoying a happy hour drink at The Holler, NWA locals enjoy infrastructure and amenities built by the hands of NWACC construction graduates. The college’s construction technology program came to be after area contractors approached NWACC to help fill their need for employees.
“We had contractors coming to us saying that they cannot find employees and need people who know how to use various tools, plan, organize and understand the construction trade,” Dr. Jorgenson explained. “We understood their urgency and realized that it was going to be an ongoing need, so we started the construction technology program. We have students getting their associate degree and going in as project managers at area construction companies and making good money.”
NWACC’s construction technology program offers students a nationally-recognized curriculum lead by industry professionals within a convenient class schedule. Since its beginning, graduates have enjoyed 100% job placement year after year.
Recent NWACC construction graduate, Lisa Lucas, is excited to be Manhattan Road & Bridge’s project manager assigned to overseeing Arkansas’ first single point urban interchange located at the Walnut and Walton interchange on interstate 49. With over 45,000 vehicles passing through the intersection on a daily basis, the new interchange will allow traffic to move smoother and quicker.
“NWACC classes lay the foundation of knowledge needed to move into the construction industry,” Lisa said. “The industry in NWA isn’t going anywhere. There’s an average of 30 people moving to NWA every day, the infrastructure has to keep up with it.”
Local contractor Nabholz has hired a number of NWACC construction graduates, and EVP of Operations Rob Dodd appreciates the education and training they bring to the business.
“NWACC Construction Technology Program graduates working at Nabholz align perfectly with our culture at Nabholz. They are dedicated, hard-working, very well trained and have a passion not only for their career, but for contributing to the community. Many of the NWACC graduates were working for us full time and were raising a family while they completed their degrees, which demonstrates a high level of commitment and dedication,” Rob said. “There is certainly a level of confidence that comes with hiring a graduate of the NWACC construction program knowing they have received the education and training necessary to be prepared for work in the real world.”
NWACC construction graduate, Lisa Lucas.
The Northwest Arkansas Council has also made it an initiative to reduce the number of NWA residents seeking healthcare services elsewhere, and encourages carrying out strategic and smart healthcare investments within the area. NWACC has followed suit by building the new Washington County facility, allowing the college to offer health profession courses in Springdale as well as Bentonville. Courses focus on education and training in nursing, emergency medical responders and health information management, resulting in well-equipped graduates for in-demand healthcare careers.
This past academic year, graduates of NWACC's health information management, physical therapist assistant, respiratory therapist and nursing programs accomplished pass rates of 100% on their respective industry certification exams.
Northwest Health System Acute Care Unit, Registry and Intern Director and Registered Nurse Derick Holmes works beside many NWACC nursing graduates and finds their skills to be an important asset to their medical centers and hospitals.
“NWACC graduates are clinically competent and professionally aware. They have not only the clinical skills but the soft skills that have become so important in a market place that is driven by customer satisfaction and clinical outcomes,” Derick said. “NWACC has made a commitment to Northwest Arkansas and the community around it. It prepares local residents to help meet the needs of a rapidly growing medical community. The college’s expansion to Washington County will only help increase the number of well-prepared healthcare professionals available.”
NWACC nursing students.
Quality of Life:
NWACC plays a significant role in the NWA community but it’s true impact can be measured by how it improves individual lives. The college offers opportunities to thousands of students to explore career paths that can make a difference in the world and in the lives of others. NWACC graduates are Arkansan entrepreneurs, designers, nurses and teachers as well as mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters reaching their goals and creating their legacies in our community.
Make an impact on your community by choosing a higher education with NWACC. Visit nwacc.edu or call 479-986-4000 to learn more.