Newport’s Tech Depot Receives $2.5 Million EDA Grant

The City of Newport and the Newport Economic Development Commission (NEDC) would like to  announce that the United States Economic Development Administration has awarded a $2.5 million grant to Newport’s Tech Depot IT Apprenticeship Academy.

The grant will be matched with $625,000  from the Newport Economic Development Commission to build a 12,000 square foot state-of-the-art  facility to house Tech Depot. “This is a huge day for economic development in Newport,” shared Mayor  David Stewart. “The new Tech Depot facility will allow our citizens to access the training and skills to  work with any company in the world, and often they will be able to work remotely and continue to live  and raise their families here.” 

Less than three weeks ago, Governor Asa Hutchinson cut the ribbon on the Tech Depot collaboration in  downtown Newport, Arkansas. The first apprentices and participating companies are currently being  established by the Arkansas Center for Data Sciences (ACDS) and the curriculum is being finalized by  ASU-Newport. “This is another huge step forward for apprenticeship programs in Arkansas,” according  to Bill Yoder, Executive Director of ACDS. “We have experience in IT and apprenticeships, and ASU Newport has experience in technical curriculum development and delivery, and now with this facility we  have all the tools for world-class IT training in Newport, Arkansas.” Tech Depot is beginning their  operation in the historic Iron Mountain Train Depot in downtown Newport and will move to the new  facility upon its completion. 

“The partnership between the Newport Economic Development Commission, ASU-Newport, and the  Arkansas Center for Data Sciences is allowing us to support our existing industries by helping them grow  the Information Technology talent they need right here in Arkansas,” stated Jon Chadwell, Executive  Director of the NEDC. “In addition, we believe that having this resource to develop IT talent will attract  other companies who are having challenges finding qualified employees for these positions.” The new  Tech Depot facility will contain Apprenticeship Training Rooms, an IT Co-Working Space, an IT Incubator  for entrepreneurs, shared office space for companies who use the facility, and an apprenticeship testing  center. Anticipated construction time for the building is eighteen to twenty-four months. Dr. Sandra  Massey, Chancellor of ASU-Newport, said, “ASU-Newport is proud to be part of this great new  opportunity for Newport and all of northeast Arkansas. We welcome the opportunity to support and develop the technical skills of the incredible people who call Arkansas their home.” 

The Arkansas Congressional Delegation worked with the City of Newport and the grant writing team at  White River Planning and Development District to secure the grant from the Economic Development  Administration. “The CARES Act continues to provide vital support and assistance to Arkansas as our state deals with the effects of COVID-19,” said Senator John Boozman. “This grant will help Newport and  the regional economy by training residents to fill in-demand jobs and creating further opportunities for  economic growth in the community. I welcome this investment by the EDA and the Trump  Administration at this critical time.” Arkansas’ leaders understand that developing high-skill talent in  rural communities will help preserve these cities in an ever changing world.

Congressman Rick Crawford commented, “The demand for a highly skilled information technology workforce is only growing, and it  is vital that we are providing the proper education and training for students to fill this demand. This  investment not only helps provide a critical resource to local Arkansans in the technology field, it creates an innovative training program that will attract business professionals nationwide.”  

The inaugural classes in the Tech Depot will have over 40 apprentices participating and will support  companies located in Newport, Batesville, and Jonesboro. The partners anticipate classes growing to  support over 100 apprentices every six months by the end of the third year. Any company with IT  employee needs can either send an incumbent worker for apprenticeship training or work with the  Arkansas Center for Data Sciences to locate an apprentice to hire and train at the Tech Depot.  Individuals interested in IT careers can put their name into the apprenticeship pool of candidates that will be offered to companies for consideration. 

Tech Depot is the center piece of Newport’s Downtown Technology Park, known as DTech Park. DTech  Park, operating out of the Newport Economic Development Commission offices, will assist technology  companies in securing a remote work location, finding office space, securing a partnership with the Tech  Depot or in locating incentives to start or expand their technology based business. “Rural sourcing,  which to me means finding our talent in rural America rather than offshore, can help companies with  security and profitability while also growing the small towns and cities that have been America’s  backbone for centuries,” explained G.B. Cazes, Principal of the Emory Group. The Emory Group is  consulting on the project and assisting with development and logistics.

Tech Depot and DTech Park are bringing IT opportunities to rural Arkansas. To get involved please complete the contact form on the website or call the Newport Economic Development Commission at  870-523-1009. Further questions and inquiries can be forwarded to Jon Chadwell at

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