A capable, qualified workforce is essential for progress in any region. Companies in Fort Smith and the surrounding cities can attest to the strength of its employee base. A diverse skill set, solid work ethic, and commitment to seeing tasks to completion, are among the qualities that area corporations value in the local workforce.
The region has a long-history of hard-working individuals across industries such as agriculture, construction, manufacturing, distribution, food processing, electronics, healthcare, and more. Other fields, include banking, media, printing, and countless others, employ thousands throughout the area. Some businesses have been in operation for more than century, with roots that run deep in their respective communities.
The Fort Smith region is further strengthened by the presence of outstanding educational systems, including award-winning school districts and higher ed institutions. These organizations work hand-in-hand with local businesses to provide programs specifically tailored to meet the needs of thriving industries. These collaborations help address emerging workplace trends and allow excellent opportunities for students to shadow or intern at companies prior to graduation.
Several area high schools also participate in concurrent course and technical training programs with universities. Examples include the highly-successful WATC, Western Arkansas Technical Center, operated by the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith. In Van Buren, students can take concurrent courses that allow them to earn an associate’s degree or technical certification by the time they are ready to graduate from high school. This is made possible by partnerships with UAFS and Arkansas Tech University-Ozark.
The Tyson Foods Logan County Career Center is a state of the art facility that enables Arkansas Tech University-Ozark to provide courses in automation technology, allied health and adult education in the Paris community. The center helps strengthen the regional workforce and is proving to be a valuable partnership between the university and area public schools.
In addition to having a qualified workforce, the Fort Smith region benefits from lower than average cost of living rates. Fort Smith’s cost of living is 14.8% below the national average, with housing 25% below the U.S. average. Surrounding communities boast similar numbers, making the region appealing to both employers and employees.