All aboard for an IT career

If you think tech only happens in big cities, think again. Better yet, take a ride up to Newport, Arkansas, population 7695 as of 2018. Located on the White River 84 miles northeast of Little Rock, Newport is an experiment in renewal, repurposing, reinventing — choose the “re-” you like best. They all fit.

The center of this grand experiment is the historic Iron Mountain Train Depot in downtown Newport. For decades, this classic 19th century building hosted the comings and goings of travelers on the Iron Mountain Railroad, but today it’s the departure point for Arkansans journeying toward careers in Information Technology.

Officially opened on September 16 to speeches from such state dignitaries as Governor Asa Hutchinson, Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston, and First Orion CEO and Chairman of the Arkansas Center for Data Sciences (ACDS) Charles Morgan, the newly named Tech Depot is the result of a joint partnership of ACDS, Arkansas State University-Newport, and the Newport Economic Development Commission. “Tech Depot will offer IT training for individuals who are employed as apprentices to Arkansas companies,” says Bill Yoder, ACDS executive director. “ACDS will manage the Tech Depot and will take the lead in matching companies to apprentices and selecting training providers for a variety of information technology skills. Courses will be offered in General IT Skills, Data Analysis, Cyber Security, and Software Development. More subject areas will be added over the next two years to meet industry demand.”

Governor Asa Hutchinson and ACDS staffers at the opening of the Newport Tech Depot.
Photo By Tom Racek

Arkansas State University-Newport (ASU-Newport) is the educational content provider for the initial IT Generalist class that started on September 28, 2020. “Going forward,” says Yoder, “ACDS will contract with educational service providers to offer industry-specific instructional content. We at ACDS are very excited about our partnership with ASU-Newport and the Newport Economic Development Commission. Each of the partners brings significant resources that will make this project a model for the future of IT training in Arkansas.”


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