Workforce Initiative Receives $50,000 Investment from Gene Haas Foundation

The investment will help fund Arkansas State Chamber’s “Be Pro Be Proud” workforce initiative, which showcases to Arkansas students the many career opportunities available within technical professions.

The Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce and the Associated Industries of Arkansas (ASCC/AIA) announced its acceptance of an $50,000 investment from the Gene Haas Foundation. Named after the president and founder of Haas Automation Inc., the Gene Haas Foundation is said to be committed to promoting the importance of U.S. manufacturing and is aggressive in offering scholarships for manufacturing education, particularly CNC machinist training. The investment will help fund Arkansas State Chamber’s “Be Pro Be Proud” workforce initiative, which showcases to Arkansas students the many career opportunities available within technical professions.

“We’re incredibly grateful to the Gene Haas Foundation for helping us continue to educate students on the opportunities that lie within technical professions and encourage further career and technical education in Arkansas schools,” says Randy Zook, president and CEO of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce. “It’s an honor to have our diligent research and subsequent workforce initiative be validated by such a category leader in the manufacturing sector.”

Through a traveling Be Pro Workshop, the “Be Pro Be Proud” Initiative has conducted four launch events across the state, visited numerous high schools and appeared at several industry events and festivals since its debut on March 8.

BeProBeProud.org serves as a content hub for students, parents, teachers and the general public to learn more and even find training and job opportunities. Employers can also use the site to engage students, current skilled trade professionals can become ambassadors and work with students to spur interest, and parents and educators can arm themselves with the necessary materials for encouraging students to learn about potential career opportunities. The website has seen more than 12,000 page views since its launch. Social media channels have also helped to keep top-of-mind awareness about the need for technical professionals and provided relevant updates throughout the campaign.

Investments, such as the one provided by the Gene Haas Foundation, are intended to fund technical programs that teach the skills needed for our economy to grow and expand. Gene Haas’ personal commitment to the importance of U.S. manufacturing inspired his foundation to focus on awarding grants for scholarships to students entering CNC machinist training, one of the 12 professions highlighted in the “Be Pro Be Proud” campaign efforts. To date, “Be Pro Be Proud” has received more than $1 million in public and private investment, bringing the Chamber’s Foundation halfway toward its funding goal for this comprehensive initiative.