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Arkansas Prepares The Next Generation of Food and Beverage Industry Leaders

 August 01, 2018

Food is at the heart of the human experience. For many, it rises to the level of art. For some, it becomes the focus of a lifelong career.

Job opportunities in the food and beverage industry are enormously varied. From the top-of-mind — farming, food service and retail grocery — to the less obvious — food and beverage manufacturing, modern food processing and applied food research — there are so many ways to be involved in this dynamic industry.

Arkansas has a wide range of education and training programs available for people working or intending to work in the food and beverage industry. Here are seven resources to help you get started, advance or expand a career in the industry.

  1. AEDC’s Manufacturing Solutions offers a range of workshops and trainings beneficial to businesses involved in different niches of the Arkansas food and beverage industry. From leadership workshops to business cybersecurity, Manufacturing Solutions helps manufacturers maximize the value of their businesses through innovation, operational excellence, sustainability and leadership development.

  2. The Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station, part of the University of Arkansas System, is the primary research support agency for farmers, food processors and other related businesses statewide. The research and extension centers are great for keeping current on the food industry and technology in Arkansas.

  3. The Arkansas Food Innovation Center in Fayetteville helps local food entrepreneurs to develop, market and sell their food products. The center provides facilities, equipment and technical expertise, making launching a food startup an achievable goal for Arkansans. Their comprehensive program walks aspiring “foodpreneurs” through nine steps, from intake and test batches to liability insurance and permitting.

  4. The Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center helps entrepreneurs across industries with business creation, management and operation. In spring 2018, the center hosted special events, trainings and workshops targeting prospective and current owners of small businesses within the Arkansas food and beverage industry.

  5. Brightwater: A Center for the Study of Food is a division of NorthWest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville. It provides academic and career training in culinary nutrition, artisanal food, beverage management and food entrepreneurship. A truly unique educational experience, Brightwater’s “teachings are based on an understanding of responsible agricultural methods and act as a transparent inquiry into responsible food production.”

  6. The Food Science department at the University of Arkansas Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences offers three core concentrations in food science, food technology, and food and culinary sciences. The department boasts an 85 percent graduate school and employment placement rate. Program graduates are prepared for positions directly within the food and beverage industry, as well as medical, dental and pharmacy schools.

  7. Startup Junkie in Fayetteville provides free consulting, events, workshops and programs, as well as access to venture capital and co-working space for entrepreneurs. The Conductor is a partnership between Startup Junkie and the University of Central Arkansas in Conway and offers similar services to the Central Arkansas community.

Arkansas food and beverage education advantages are abundant. From making value-added products out of locally raised foods, to streamlining a food packaging plant, there are trainings and workshops around the state to help. Arkansans are natural teachers, especially when it comes to passing on knowledge and expertise about food and beverages!

Bonus: Here’s a list of Arkansas culinary schools.

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