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BENTONVILLE -- Northwest Arkansas Community College will break ground on its Washington County center this year, the college's foundation director told the Board of Trustees said Friday.

Annetta Tirey gave a project update to the board during its half-day retreat on the Bentonville campus.

Donations

Donations made so far to the Northwest Arkansas Community College Foundation for construction of the school’s Washington County center include $2 million from the Walton Family Foundation, $1.5 million from the Jackson G. and Ella Frances Byrd Trust and $100,000 from the Black Hills Corp. Foundation.

Source: Staff report

The foundation selected Hight-Jackson Associates in the fall to design the 35,000-square-foot facility, which will be built on 20 acres next to Arvest Ballpark and the recently opened Arkansas Children's Northwest hospital.

The center won't initially use all the property and will be built with expansion in mind, Tirey said.

Officials have narrowed the contractor applications to five that will give their final presentations Wednesday, Tirey said.

She didn't give a specific time this year when the groundbreaking will be held, but said the capital campaign for construction will enter the public phase when the date is announced.

The foundation has raised $3.6 million of the estimated $10 million to $12 million project.

The college is leasing 25,000 square feet in three locations in Washington County. The new center will eliminate redundancies in staffing and provide more comprehensive services in one location, Tirey said. General education courses as well as various health profession courses will be offered at the center.

"All of our major health care providers in the area are expanding," she said. "There's a high demand for these types of professions, especially nursing."

The college is also on track to break ground on its integrated design lab this summer on the Bentonville campus, said Debi Buckley, vice president of finance and administration. The building will bring the construction technology and fine arts programs under one roof. Buckley presented concept designs, which had rooms for art classes on the north end, space for construction technology on the south and gathering spaces in the middle for students from both disciplines.

Officials estimate the building to be about 24,000 square feet and cost $5.5 million.

Buckley said the hope is to have the design phase completed by July, at which point the project could be bid by mid-August and be finished by mid-July 2019.

"That's a very, very tight schedule," she said.

Phases two and three could begin if money became available, officials said. Phase two would be about 13,000 square feet and include a few classrooms, an entrepreneurial space and gallery. Phase three could be an event center, Buckley said.

Todd Kitchen, vice president for student services, also reported on the college's enrollment, which saw a 1 percent decrease this semester from the 2017 spring semester. Officials consider enrollment to be steady since current enrollment is still more than it was in the 2016 spring semester.

The college had 7,244 students enrolled in 63,767 credit hours as of Jan. 30. Its goal is to have 7,400 students enroll in 64,000 credit hours this semester, Kitchen said. He said he wasn't excited about the flat enrollment until he saw what was happening at other higher education institutions across the state.

Two-year colleges across Arkansas saw a 4 percent enrollment decline from last year and a 16.9 percent decrease over the last five years, he said.

NW News on 02/03/2018

Print Headline: NWACC trustees hear building updates

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