All 10 Southeast Arkansas Economic Development District counties achieve certification as ACT® Work Ready Communities

(Pine Bluff, Arkansas, September 21, 2022) – The ACT® Work Ready Communities website has announced that the ten counties comprising the Southeast Arkansas Economic Development District (SEAEDD) have all met the criteria to become certified ACT® Work Ready Communities. This achievement marks the first completed “regional” certification in Arkansas.

The ACT® Work Ready Communities (ACTWRC) initiative is designed to assist a particular area, region, or state in developing its workforce pipeline to provide skilled workers for employers. The framework allows each participating community to quantify and improve the skill levels of its workforce through a standardized workforce skill credential — the ACT WorkKeys® National Career Readiness Certificate® (NCRC) — supported by data updated online by Iowa-based ACT® on a monthly basis.

According to SEAEDD’s Executive Director, Patrecia Hargrove, “The counties of Arkansas, Ashley, Bradley, Chicot, Cleveland, Desha, Drew, Grant, Jefferson, and Lincoln have sent a clear signal to businesses and industries that may be considering locating in our region that Southeast Arkansas is ready to work. We have demonstrated that readiness through this initiative and we’re proud that our entire Economic Development District is the first in Arkansas to achieve this.

Randy Zook, President and CEO of Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, has been a strong supporter of ACT® WorkKeys assessments since 2008. He says, “Each year site selectors who scout areas as potential spots for new economic projects look more and more at the ACT® Work-Ready designation. This recent achievement in Southeast Arkansas validates that the entire region is successfully developing a workforce pipeline to help individuals meet their educational and career goals, as well as demonstrating they are developing an awareness in the business community of the benefits to hiring an individual armed with an ACT®
NCRC. The number one issue in today’s economy is a capable, hirable workforce.”

In a related announcement, Cheri Hughes, ACT® Regional Manager, has offered to do a pro-bono boot camp training for any other counties in Arkansas that want to get engaged with Work Ready Communities.”

For more information about the Southeast Arkansas Economic Development District, contact Shane Knight at or go to

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