The Union Pacific Community Ties Giving Program presented $200,000 to the Be Pro Be Proud initiative of the Arkansas State Chamber, according to a news release.


The state Chamber and its public and private partners launched Be Pro Be Proud in 2016 to address an expanding skills gap in professional trades across the state. The effort highlights 12 high-wage, high-demand careers in the transportation, construction and manufacturing industries.


Randy Zook, president of the state Chamber, announced the contribution from Union Pacific presented March 4 at North Little Rock.


“Arkansas is the first state to step out with a comprehensive grassroots effort to change the perception of skilled professional trades on a major scale,” Zook said. “We have tremendous untapped talent in Arkansas. Every day, we present young people with accurate information about technical careers and the opportunities they create. Every day another student walks away with a new sense of purpose because they’re hearing – maybe for the first time – that they can be tremendously successful by taking a path that doesn’t require a traditional college degree.”


The funds were donated to the initiative for construction of a state-of-the-art 53-foot, double-expandable trailer to replace the workshop currently in use.


“It will expand upon the simulators currently offered, providing dynamic hands-on experiences of these professions,” according to the release.


Union Pacific is the signature sponsor of the Be Pro Be Proud 2019-2020 Mobile Workshop Tour which will make more than 150 stops in Arkansas and at several national events.


“The Be Pro Be Proud simulator is a state-of-the-art, interactive experience, highlighting skilled-trade professions, including those available at Union Pacific,” said Scott Moore, senior vice president and chief administrative officer. “It’s important for students, parents and teachers across Arkansas to understand the benefit of a vocational or technical education and the many career fields available, leading to family-supporting jobs.”


To schedule a tour of the mobile workshop or to look for employment opportunities visit the Be Pro Be Proud website at https://www.beprobeproud.org.