The recently announced Tech Depot, an information technology apprenticeship academy in Newport, has received a $2.5 million grant from the United States Economic Development Administration.
This grant will be matched by $625,000 awarded by the Newport Economic Development Commission (NEDC), bringing the total amount to $3.125 million. These funds will be used to develop and build a 12,000 facility that will serve as the Tech Depot headquarters. Currently, the Tech Depot is operating in the Iron Mountain Train Depot in downtown Newport but will shift to the new facility once it is completed.
NEDC executive director Jon Chadwell said in a statement that the new facility would feature an array of spaces for information technology training. These spaces include apprenticeship training rooms, an IT co-working space, shared office space for companies using the facility and an apprenticeship testing center, as well as an IT incubator for entrepreneurs.
Chadwell expects the facility’s construction to take 18 to 24 months.
“This is another huge step forward for apprenticeship programs in Arkansas,” Arkansas Center for Data Sciences(ACDS) executive director Bill Yoder said. “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.
Local officials are billing the Tech Depot as the focal point of the Downtown Newport Technology Park, also called the DTech Park. More than 40 apprentices are expected to participate in the inaugural Tech Depot classes with hundreds more projected to be added over the course of the next three years.
The Tech Depot was officially opened on Sept. 16 and is a joint partnership between the Arkansas Center for Data Sciences, Arkansas State University-Newport, and the Newport Economic Development Commission.