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July 2016

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"Be Pro Be Proud" Workforce Initiative Receives $50,000 Investment from Gene Haas Foundation

The Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce and the Associated Industries of Arkansas (ASCC/AIA) has announced its acceptance of a $50,000 investment from the 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. Named after the President and founder of Haas Automation, Inc., the Gene Haas Foundation is committed to promoting the importance of U.S. manufacturing and offers scholarships for manufacturing education, particularly CNC machinist training.

"We are 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," said Randy Zook, President and CEO of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce. "It is 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, engaging 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 March 8, 2016. serves as a content hub for students, parents, teachers and the general public to learn more and even find training and job opportunities. Additionally, employers can 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 strong technical programs that teach the skills needed for the U.S. 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 towards its funding goal for this comprehensive initiative.

"It is critical that we all become more serious about advocating for skilled trade professions and educating students about the rewarding career opportunities they offer," said Michael Garner, General Manager of the Haas Factory Outlet in Little Rock, AR. "On behalf of the Gene Haas Foundation, we are proud to award these funds to the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce's Foundation, since its `Be Pro Be Proud' initiative truly illustrates our desire to both advance our manufacturing workforce and contribute toward Arkansas's economic growth."

"Today's technically professional workforce is aging and the next generation of new talent is not sufficient to fill the demand," said a spokesperson. "Nationwide, there are an estimated 5.8 million job openings, with approximately 60,000 of these openings in Arkansas. The majority of these are in high skilled technical fields, and this gap in the state's employment can be directly attributed to a lack of knowledge, interest and preparation. The `Be Pro Be Proud' campaign is aimed at closing the skills gap and providing students and their influencers with the resources and training they need to succeed in a technical profession."

Gene Haas Foundation

2800 Sturgis Rd.

Oxnard, CA 93030


Be Pro Be Proud

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