Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Big River Steel supplier outreach events to be held in October

BRS supplier outreach event to target small, minority-owned businesses
Participants to learn about business, contracting opportunities

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas (August 28, 2013) – Two workshops will be held in October for small and minority businesses interested in doing business with Big River Steel. The workshops, which will take place October 16 in Little Rock and October 23 in Blytheville, are offered to all small, minority and women-owned businesses in Arkansas. There is no cost to attend but registration is required. Register at The workshops are coordinated by Big River Steel, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) and the Governor’s Office.  

In January 2013, Big River announced plans to build a $1 billion steel mill in Mississippi County that will directly employ more than 500 people with annual average compensation of $75,000 a year. The company plans to produce steel for the automotive, oil and gas, and electrical energy industries. Construction of the mill will take approximately two years.

The October 16 Little Rock workshop will be held 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. at the Jack Stephens Center on the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s campus. The October 23 Blytheville workshop, which will cover the same material as the Little Rock event, will be held 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. at Arkansas Northeastern College. Participants can attend either workshop which will outline details and requirements of doing business with Big River. All business sectors are encouraged to attend as there are a variety of opportunities. 

“This outreach event is an excellent way for Arkansas’s small, minority and women-owned businesses to discover new business and contracting opportunities with Big River Steel,” said AEDC’s Small and Minority Business Director Patricia Nunn Brown. “We want to ensure that our small and minority businesses are well represented in constructing and servicing this plant.”
 For more information on this event, call 1-800-ARKANSAS or e-mail

Article submitted by Scott Hardin
AEDC Marketing and Communications 

Friday, August 9, 2013

OPD 8th Annual Make-A-Wish Poker Run

The 8th annual Osceola Police Department Make-A-Wish Motorcycle Poker Run will be held on Saturday, September 21, 2013. Both motorcycles and cars will meet up at Osceola High School, located at 2750 W Semmes Ave, at 9:00 a.m. to gather and parade through town.

The OPD fundraising partnership with the Mid-South Chapter of Make-A-Wish began locally in September of 2006. Since that time, over $102,000 has been raised within Mississippi County to grant 14 wishes for children ranging in ages from 3 to 15. Last year alone, the OPD raised over $20,000 for Make-A-Wish.

Entry for this year’s Poker Run is $20 in advance or $25 the day of the event, which includes one hand, lunch, and a commemorative tee shirt while supplies last. An auction will immediately follow lunch.

For more information, call 870-622-7060, 870-622-4943, or 870-563-5213. To register, mail completed forms to:
OPD Poker Run
Attn: Cathey Willbanks
401 W Keiser
Osceola, AR 72370

Forms are available for pickup at the Osceola Police Department and at the Osceola/South Mississippi County Chamber of Commerce office.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation of the Mid-South grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. For more information about the Make-A-Wish foundation or to register a child, visit

Article submitted by Billy Willbanks
on behalf of the OPD Make-A-Wish Poker Run
The City of Osceola is a proud member of the Osceola/South Mississippi County Chamber of Commerce

Thursday, August 8, 2013

ANC WORK Program—A Collaborative Effort to Build a Workforce


Arkansas Northeastern College is reviving a successful program from the 1990s to help address current and future workforce demands in the region. Workforce Orientation & Retraining Keys (WORK) is a sixty clock hour program designed to lift under-skilled local residents living in poverty out of poverty and, simultaneously, advance economic development by expanding the local workforce. 

American Greetings in Osceola has also shown its support of the WORK Program—Workforce 
Orientation and Retraining Keys, now available through Arkansas Northeastern College. American 
Greetings Human Resource Manager David Oakes (L) presents ANC President Dr. James
Shemwell with a $5,000 check for the WORK Program.
“Through industry and community support, this program will reach out and find people who currently are not supporting themselves and give them the opportunity to learn the skills to be productive in the workforce.  Not only is the WORK Program free to participants, it also incorporates an incentive pay to the students as long as they continue to meet the demands of the program, including showing up for each class on time,” said Dr. James Shemwell, President of Arkansas Northeastern College. Shemwell noted that WORK is one of several initiatives that the College has underway to address present and future workforce needs locally.

According to Shemwell, WORK will provide individuals with the necessary skills and support network to access economic opportunity. Community mentors will work with each WORK participant throughout the 8 weeks of training and extending until the participant has successfully maintained employment for 90 days. 

Kagome Creative Foods in Osceola donates $5,000 to the newly reinstated WORK Program—a
program designed to prepare under-skilled , unemployed residents for the workforce.
(L to R)  Kagome Plant Manager Charlie Simons and Human Resources Manager Nita Reams
present a check to ANC President Dr. James Shemwell.
WORK participants will have the opportunity to earn participant incentives up to $300 during training to help remove barriers to employment, such as funds to purchase work clothes or specialized footwear. Completers of the WORK program will have the opportunity to obtain a certificate of WORK completion, a 10-hour OSHA certificate, an American Heart Association CPR card, a Career Readiness Certificate (CRC), and job interview opportunities with local employers.

WORK represents a comprehensive partnership effort among Arkansas Northeastern College, the Great River Economic Development Foundation, the Mississippi County Equal Opportunity Commission, area industries, community and faith-based leaders, and the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation. 

“We’ve been fortunate to have the support of the community and many of our local industries,” added Shemwell who said that employer partners were still being sought for the program which is expected to enroll students later this month. By investing $5,000 for program seed money to launch the program, employer partners will enjoy interview priority with program graduates, as well as access to the class and students during the program. To sustain the program’s viability into the future, employers will be asked to contribute $750 to the WORK program for each WORK graduate hired by that employer, a “pay-as-you-go” approach. “After their initial investment of seed money, employers only will be asked to contribute pro rata as they realize value from the program through actual hires made,” said Shemwell.

The WORK course, to be offered both in Blytheville and Osceola, will be made available at no cost to participating trainees. Douglas Echols, most recently an ANC Career Coach at Osceola High School, has been selected as the WORK Coordinator. Those interested in the WORK program can contact the ANC Harry L. Crisp Center at 763-6222.

Submitted by Rachel Gifford
Associate Vice President for Development and College Relations
Arkansas Northeastern College
Arkansas Northeastern College is a proud member of the Osceola/South Mississippi County Chamber of Commerce.