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FAYETTEVILLE -- A state office to help Arkansans find work is moving onto the campus of the University of Arkansas Community College at Rich Mountain, the top leader for the two-year school said.

"They'll be right next to our adult basic ed program, literally right past their doors," said Chancellor Phillip Wilson. "So they'll be able to walk out and take a client that needs basic training -- or maybe they're college ready, and we can get them into a technical program."

The University of Arkansas board of trustees on Friday approved the college's request to carry out an $825,000 loan agreement with Union Bank of Mena.

The loan will cover about $380,000 in costs associated with the remodeling of the campus's Abernathy Building to better house the Mena office of the state Department of Workforce Services, Wilson said. The remaining loan amount will pay for the renovation of science labs, according to documents presented to trustees.

At various centers statewide, the state Department of Workforce Services offers assistance with unemployment insurance and filing claims for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, in addition to employment services.

Wilson said the college will charge a market rate to the department and rent out about 3,000 square feet in the remodeled campus building. About two-thirds of the building will remain for use by the college, Wilson said.

He said move-in is scheduled for October.

Steve Guntharp, a spokesman for the Workforce Services Department, said in an email five workforce services offices currently are based on college campuses in West Memphis, Blytheville, Newport, Camden and Magnolia.

As far as finances, "there were no additional costs to moving" to the school, Guntharp said, adding that the office will benefit from having campus security.

Wilson said the idea first came up about four years ago during a casual conversation with the director of the Mena workforce services site.

"I caught him in the parking lot," Wilson said, with the idea taking time to develop.

Wilson told trustees that the college has grown from one building in 1973, describing it today as a rural institution.

"West-central Arkansas is often forgotten," Wilson said.

The partnership with the Workforce Services Department "is a really, really effective use of state funds," Wilson said, adding, "we want to be a model for this program, because it just makes sense."

NW News on 09/11/2017

Print Headline: Work-help office moves to campus

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