Community leaders earlier today broke ground on a Northwest Arkansas Community College center that will go up in Springdale.

Construction of the 38,000-square-foot facility starts this summer on a site that’s just west of Arvest Ballpark. The goal is to have the facility complete in late 2019.

The Northwest Arkansas Community College Foundation has raised $4.4 million of the $12 million needed for the project, and its leadership will continue pursuing new gifts as part of a “NWACC Now!” capital campaign, said Annetta Tirey, the foundation’s executive director.

The college has its main campus in Bentonville, and it’s the state’s largest community college. The enrollment last fall included more than 7,700 degree-seeking students, and about 40 percent of those students are from Washington County.

Erin Hogue of the Walmart Foundation talks with Northwest Arkansas Community College President Evelyn Jorgenson after today’s groundbreaking ceremony. The Bentonville college is building an additional campus in Springdale.

Joe Spivey, the chairman of the community college’s board of trustees, said during today’s ceremony that a Washington County campus has remained a board priority for more than a decade.

Mike Luttrell, who is chairman of the NWACC Foundation Board of Directors, said the importance of having the additional location couldn’t be overstated. It will provide access for people interested in attending college for the first time as well as those interested in pursuing new careers.

Perry Webb, president of the Springdale Chamber of Commerce, predicted the demand for the community college’s services is going to exceed expectations, saying that Springdale residents and businesses have long desired more access to the community college’s offerings.

Tirey said gifts provided to the project include $2 million from the Walton Family Foundation, $1.5 million from the Jackson G. & Ella Frances Byrd charitable trust, $750,000 from the Walmart Foundation and $125,000 from Black Hills Energy.

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