July 11th was the kick-off of the Industrial Manufacturing Technician apprenticeship program designed for Simmons Foods in the Western Arkansas Workforce Development Area. This is a collaboration of public-private partners to pilot a maintenance professional development training program identified as a need by Simmons after round-table discussions of the sector partnership in advanced manufacturing for the region. Partners include Simmons Foods, National Apprenticeship Training Foundation (NATF), Crawford County Adult Education center and Western Arkansas Planning & Development District (WAPDD). WAPDD was able to acquire funding from Arkansas Department of Workforce Services (ADWS) as part of the Arkansas Apprenticeship Pathway Initiative (AAPI) to expand registered apprenticeship in Arkansas. This exciting pilot program is expected to provide valuable certified skills training to 125 maintenance staff helping an important industry in the region create a sustainable training process to ensure the success of their current workers and to meet future needs for the company. It will establish a model for other advanced manufacturing partnerships across the state to follow as workforce needs continue to grow in Arkansas.