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Cooperative Extension Service launches new University Center website


LITTLE ROCK — The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Center for Rural Resilience and Workforce Development has launched a new website detailing the resources and services offered through its newest program, designed to support economic and workforce development across Arkansas.
In November 2023, the U.S. Economic Development Administration, or EDA, awarded a $650,000, five-year grant to the Cooperative Extension Service’s department of Community, Professional and Economic Development to establish and operate a University Center. Rather than a physical location, the EDA University Center program is a resource serving the state’s economic development ecosystem, with a particular focus on rural marginalized communities, including Hispanic and Marshallese communities.
The Center’s new website outlines information about the program and its services, including training and technical assistance, applied research and annual research findings reports. The website also features an interactive map of Arkansas’s eight EDA-funded Development Districts, which serve all 75 counties.
“The Development Districts offer incredible services to their communities, such as grant writing, planning and economic development projects, and we want to make sure anyone in their community can find their district and connect with them,” said Brandon L. Mathews, extension program manager for the University Center.

Mathews said that Heartland Forward, one of the strategic partners of the University Center, led the creation of the Development District map.
“The interactive map is just one of many visualizations we hope to build with the Center,” said Rodrigo Ramirez-Perez, research analyst for Heartland Forward. “Our goal is to make data accessible and usable throughout the project, while also uplifting the Development Districts and the incredible work they do for the state.”
Over the next five years, more information and resources will be added to the University Center website. Those resources include Labor Market Observatories, which will be dashboards that provide important data on workforce metrics for each of the eight districts.
Mathews said the Center will also offer a newsletter that highlights funding opportunities, EDA activities and updates, community and economic development district events, workshops and tools for workforce development. Those interested can sign up for this resource at the FACT Sheet Newsletter Sign-up.