FORT SMITH, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The University of Arkansas-Fort Smith Center for Economic Development announces it will help Tyson Foods employees find new opportunities through retooling and upskilling following the company’s announcement that it will permanently close its Van Burn plant.

“We understand that plant closings can be difficult and that dislocated workers often face challenges when trying to find new employment opportunities. The Center for Economic Development will be offering a variety of resources and services to help these individuals navigate these challenges and move forward with their careers,” said Kendall Ross, Executive Director of the Center for Economic Development. 

According to a press release from the university, its services include resume building, reskilling and training programs, job placement assistance, and entrepreneurial training.

The university says the CED will also work closely with the Van Buren Chamber of Commerce and local employers to identify new job opportunities and connect people with potential employers and specific training that may be needed.

UAFS says it offers both credit and non-credit education programs.

The release says that the university has secured funding for skills training and can retool displaced workers at no cost.

According to the release, training at the CED is available in both English and Spanish.

The release says that the UAFS Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center is prepared to work with those who may be looking to open their own small business after the plant closes.

According to the release, the center offers comprehensive assessments, business planning, and lending strategy, including connections with microlenders which could be more flexible with first-time entrepreneurs than traditional lenders. The release says the ASBTDC is also equipped to consult in English and Spanish.

The university says the UAFS Admissions Advisors, including Spanish-speaking staff members, are offering services for those interested in entering traditional education by attending job, education and placement fairs held at the Van Buren plant over the coming months.

According to the release, people who need to continue working may be eligible for evening and online courses offered at the university, and those who have prior college experience may be able to apply to the university’s Adult Degree Completion Program.

The university says it may also be equipped to provide funds in partnership with the Western Arkansas Planning and Development District to create no-cost education pathways for qualified displaced workers to earn academic credentials up to and including bachelor’s degrees at UAFS.