State of Arkansas Awards Grant to Help Fund New Steelmaking Bootcamp

Arkansas’ government is investing in the future of its steel industry.

The Arkansas Office of Skills Development awarded Arkansas Northeastern College (ANC) a $1.2 million grant in August to help create the Arkansas Steelmaking Bootcamp, which is expected to train 500 participants in its first year. The program provides entry-level knowledge for workers entering the steelmaking industry. Graduates of the two-week, 80-hour bootcamp earn OSHA-10 General Industry Certification and first aid/CPR certification. 

“The steel industry in Northeast Arkansas is rapidly growing, and ensuring that there is a strong pipeline of talented workers is vital for the industry’s continued growth,” Arkansas Secretary of Commerce Hugh McDonald said in a statement. “The Arkansas Steelmaking Bootcamp is a prime demonstration of how government, industry, and educational partners in our state can work together to solve workforce development challenges that will set Arkansas up for success in the years to come.”

Northeast Arkansas, especially Mississippi County, has become a steelmaking hub. Big River Steel/U. S. Steel, Nucor-Yamato Steel, Nucor Steel Arkansas, Highbar Steel, Tenaris, Majestic Steel USA, Lexicon, Atlas Tube, Arkansas Steel Processing, Ratner Steel, SMS Millcraft, and Primetals are among the steel companies located in the area.

ANC, located in Blytheville, is home to multiple new workforce development programs targeted toward the trade industry. AISC member fabricator Lexicon is expanding its recently launched workforce development program at the school.

Lexicon announced it has launched Level Two of its Maintenance Mechanics course at ANC, the next step after the Level One course that debuted in January 2023. The Level Two class trains employees on how to remove and install couplings, valves, and hydraulic equipment. Level One taught the safe use of hand tools. A Lexicon employee must complete three levels of classroom training at ANC to become a certified industrial maintenance mechanic.

The maintenance courses are available to all Lexicon employees who work in millwright mechanics. The company said 49 employees completed Level One earlier in 2023.

The maintenance mechanic training program is part of Lexicon University (Lex U), which is available to all Lexicon employees, companies, and divisions. It has on-the-job, classroom, and online training programs that can be completed at pre-arranged and regularly scheduled times. It is divided into training curricula depending on the employee’s position: professional, management, and trades.

In addition to fabrication, Lexicon has branches that handle construction management, energy services, industrial contractors, and industrial maintenance.