The Callaway Chamber of Commerce celebrated the launch of Be Pro Be Proud with a ribbon cutting ceremony and a preview of the simulator.
Be Pro Be Proud is a workforce development program that aims to show students across the country what opportunities are available in technical careers after high school.
The program is offered in four states; Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Across those states, there has been 1,498 tour stops in 443 cities since the program launched in 2016.
Be Pro Be Proud will soon be offered in New Mexico and Tennessee, according to the company's website.
Be Pro Be Proud originally launched in Arkansas, and expanded to Georgia and South Carolina in 2020. It expanded to North Carolina in 2022.
The Be Pro Be Proud initiative was launched by the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce and the Associated Industries of Arkansas.
The program was successful enough to launch a second mobile simulation trailer in 2019, according to the company's website.
The simulation experience is housed in a 53-foot trailer that covers over 1,000 square feet. Inside the trailer are around a dozen simulation stations that showcase career opportunities. Many of the stations include virtual and augmented reality components.
One of the simulations offered is a semi-truck driving simulator, where participants sit in a driver's seat that offers a view into what a career as a semi-truck driver could offer.
Local business leaders and community leaders were invited Monday to preview the simulation before it heads to Callaway County high schools this week.
Be Pro Be Proud will be at North Callaway High School on Tuesday, New Bloomfield High School on Wednesday, South Callaway High School on Thursday and Fulton High School on Friday.
Approximately 1,500 students will get to experience the simulation throughout the week, according to a chamber release.
Before the ribbon cutting and preview, Be Pro Be Proud Executive Director Andrew Parker spoke about the program.
He said Be Pro Be Proud launched to combat the amount of jobs that were opening up as members of the workforce were retiring, but weren't being filled. The goal of the program is to inform students of technical career opportunities prior to the post-secondary level.
Parker said the initiative has been received extremely well since it launched.
"Since 2016 when we launched, we have had about 175,000 (students) come through in one workshop," Parker said. "Teacher response has been nothing short of extraordinary. We launched in March 0f 2016, and by the end of that first week, enough organic teacher response was received that we filled that first semester schedule. By the end of March, we filled the rest of the calendar year. By the end of the calendar year, we had a 12-month waiting list. And even despite Covid, we've had about a two-three year waiting list ever since."