Greenway Equipment co., a John Deere-affiliated dealership, has invested $1.5 million to help better train Lonoke high School students for technician jobs in the agricultural industry that will pay them a starting wage of $40,000 after graduation, according to an article from Talk Business. A $1.2 million grant from the Arkansas Office of Skills Development will also help pay for the project, which was announced by Governor Sarah Sanders at the Lonoke Business Academy last week. 

The investment from Greenway will cover equipment, tools and the cost of an instructor for the course. The curiculum, designed by Greenway, will have students spending roughly 2.5 hours a day in classes that will earn them certifications in computer diagnostics, air-conditioning, hydraulics and electrical departments. Most of this training for Lonoke students will take place during their junior and senior years. 

After they graduate, they will just need another three months of additional training to be able to be officially John Deere-certified as a technician. 

Superintendent Jeff Senn said the goal of the project was to provide direction for its students. Only about 30-35% of Lonoke graduates go on to attend a college or university and Senn says the school has been too focused on higher education and not enough on students entering the workforce. 

Greenway equipment Co. is a family-owned company with 27 dealerships in the state of Arkansas. 4 of those dealerships are within 30 miles of Lonoke. 

The two-year program will start this fall and be limited to 24 students who will undergo an application and interview process before being accepted. Students must be on course to graduate on time in order to be accepted. The program is intentionally limited to only a small number of students initially in order to provide hands-on instruction.

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