Gov. Asa Hutchinson will announce the launch of the ACT Work-Ready Communities Initiative for the Workforce Alliance of Southeast Arkansas.


The ceremony will be held at 9 a.m. Tuesday, April 25, in the John F. Gibson University Center at the University of Arkansas at Monticello.


The event will inform community leaders of the involvement of seven counties in the initiative. The session will also encourage collaborative involvement to reach the goals that will earn each county ACT Work-Ready Community Certification.


Participating counties include Ashley, Bradley, Chicot, Cleveland, Desha, Drew and Lincoln, according to a news release.


“Certification will demonstrate to current and future employers that Southeast Arkansas is willing to go the extra mile to equip our workforce with the skills employers demand,” said Denisa Pennington, grant manager for the Workforce Alliance of Southeast Arkansas at the UAM College of Technology-Crossett.


The Workforce Alliance of Southeast Arkansas was established through grants awarded to UAM from the Arkansas Department of Higher Education and the Delta Regional Authority. These were made possible by passage of Act 1131 of 2015 by the Arkansas General Assembly to support regional workforce planning and implementation of grants and projects. The legislation was co-sponsored by state Sens. Jane English of North Little Rock and Eddie Cheatham of Crossett.


“This initiative is vital to the continued growth and economic health of Southeast Arkansas and I am pleased that UAM is able to play a leading role in this important endeavor,” said UAM Chancellor Karla Hughes.


Some of the stated goals of the initiative are:


• To reduce turnover, overtime and waste while increasing employee morale;


• To streamline the hiring process;


• To improve the effectiveness of training dollars;


• To ensure that workforce skills meet the needs of local employers;


• To determine skills improvement and training needs;


• Provide members of the workforce with skill credentials to enhance their employability nationwide;


• To attract new employers and promote economic development;


• To keep a pipeline of qualified workers available for current employers;


• To decrease unemployment rates and improve the overall quality of life in the region.


The workforce alliance includes team members are:


Ashley County: Mike Smith, executive director of Crossett Economic Development; India Holt, owner of the Holt Auto Group; Barbara Garner, assistant superintendent of the Crossett School District; Tracy Streeter, assistant superintendent of the Hamburg School District; Nick Adams, principal of Hamburg High School;


Bradley County: Bethany Brukardt, human relations manager for Potlatch Corp.; Angela Scroggins, high school counselor for the Hermitage School District; Kristin Weeks, workforce coordinator for the Southeast Arkansas Community-Based Education Center;


Chicot County: Superintendent Billy Adams of the Lakeside School District, and Chicot County Judge Mack Ball;


Cleveland County: Superintendent Dudley Hume of the Woodlawn School District, and Superintendent Johnnie Johnson of the Cleveland County School District;


Desha County: Eddie Thomas, WIOA regional manager of the Southeast Arkansas Economic Development District; Sommer Frazer, literacy director at McGehee High School; Dorissa Kaufman, director of the UAM Adult Education Program;


Drew County: Nita McDaniel, executive director of the Monticello Economic Development Commission; Tawana Greene-Jones, executive director of admissions and enrollment management at UAM; Chris Pace, retired coordinator of Adult Education WAGE;


Lincoln County: Superintendent Jon Laffoon of the Star City School District; Mike Walker, principal of Star City High School; Gina Richard, Star City STEM coordinator and principal of Star City Middle School; and Nathan White, director of student services for the Star City School District.