UACCB acquires property to expand workforce training in region
The University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville (UACCB) has acquired the property at 2210 East Main Street. Formerly the 100,000 square foot building housed rubber and pole manufacturing at different points, now UACCB will rehabilitate the space for expanded workforce training.
“We are calling this space the UACCB Gateway Center to honor our history as an institution and to speak to the many opportunities ahead for our community,” said Dr. Brian Shonk, chancellor.
UACCB already has the state-of-the-art Workforce Training Center on campus, featuring college credit and high school programs including advanced manufacturing, welding, robotics, and construction. The new Gateway Center will provide space for many types of short-term and industry-specific training, along with more room for the recently added commercial driving (CDL) program and compact and heavy equipment programs.
“Our goal is to provide a space that can meet our community’s rapidly expanding workforce needs, and potentially benefit our entire region,” Shonk added, “we now have the capacity to expand our short-term training and upskilling opportunities for new and existing employees. If an employer has an idea, we want to partner on it.”
“We are very excited about UACCB’s acquisition of the property on East Main Street, soon to be the Gateway Center,” said Jan Smith, executive director of White River Planning and Development District, “The facility is an important part of the history of Batesville and Independence County and the possibilities for use of the building and surrounding land are limitless. The programs of UACCB will utilize this space in numerous ways providing skilled training for the local workforce and area job opportunities. As this facility evolves into the future potential it has to offer, it will benefit our region of the state tremendously.”
The acquisition was approved by the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees in November 2022. The property nearly doubles the footprint of the campus by adding 100,000 square feet of covered space and an additional 55 acres of land. Initial work will be done to cover a small corner of the building, repair portions of the roof, and clean up the exterior.
“The addition of this property makes sense on many levels including the extensive land area and over 100,000 square feet of building,” said Phil Purifoy of Fennell Purifoy Architects, “The re-use of an existing structure is the most sustainable option, saving the cost of a new structure and capturing the embodied energy that it took to manufacture the materials and erect the building.”
Purifoy noted some favorable technical aspects of the acquisition including the high bay, long span, steel frame being ideal for the planned flexible use as a technology hub/workforce training facility where large equipment and vehicles can have access inside and out with relative ease. Purifoy added the site location on an arterial road that is close to both the UACCB campus and Batesville is very desirable and will facilitate both instruction and management of the facility.
With so much space, Dr. Shonk also hopes to one day expand the college’s agriculture programs and focus on innovative ways to get food from farms to consumers. Shonk highlighted, “There is great potential for collaboration and service for our community in this space.”