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New job training center opens in Aniak, the second in the Y-K Delta

Arviiq Training Center
Courtesy of The Kuskokwim Corporation
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The Kuskokwim Corporation
The site of the Arviiq Training Center in Aniak, Alaska.

If you live in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta you may be familiar with Yuut Elitnaurviat, the workforce development center in Bethel that trains local people for local jobs. Until recently, it was the only facility of its kind in the region.

The Arviiq Regional Economic Development and Training Center opened in Aniak at the end of January 2022. It’s operated by The Kuskokwim Corporation (TKC), a tribal corporation composed of 10 Middle Kuskokwim River village corporations.

"'Arviiq' is, in our region's Yup’ik dialect, is 'sharpening stone,'" said TKC CEO and President Andrea Gusty. “And so when we think about our region, and its needs, and the mission of The Kuskokwim Corporation, we say we're cutting the path to a better future for our shareholders.”

But the training won’t be limited to shareholders. It will also serve residents of the area, all at no cost to the students. Right now it’s a place where people can get help writing resumes, applying for regional scholarships, and connecting to job training in other cities. Cultural workshops such as caribou tufting and net mending are planned for spring. Vocational and technical training are also in the works. For village residents, this means education closer to home.

“So somebody does not have to go to Bethel, or to Anchorage, or to Seward, or to Palmer. They can receive trainings close to home in their own backyard,” Gusty said. “And in some cases, if they're in Aniak, go home at the end of the night and be with their family.”

The building is housed in a former elementary school owned by the Kuspuk School District. The old school will require renovations to provide dorms and workspaces. Gusty said that plans are in the works for dormitories, metal and wood shops, and a computer lab. These renovations will provide hands-on experience to students in fields such as carpentry and HVAC.

“Anytime there is a nail that needs to be nailed, or something that needs to be installed, that we will be training our people every step of the way,” Gusty added.

The training center hopes to also offer virtual trainings to TKC shareholders who live outside of the region. The training center is also partnering with other facilities throughout the state, such as Northern Industrial Training in the Mat-Su Valley and Yuut Elitnaurviat in Bethel, to bring more training options to the area. They want to meet current needs and prepare for large projects that might come to the region, such as the proposed Donlin Gold mine.

“We envision this being a place where people can receive training for jobs today. And then also jobs that they may want in the future. Donlin may or may not be one of those things,” said Gusty.

Anyone interested in more information on how to connect with the Arviiq Regional Economic Development and Training Center can call 907-675-4275 or email info@kuskokwim.com.

Desiree Hagen is temporarily working for KYUK as part of a reporter exchange supported by the Alaska Center for Excellence in Journalism. She works for KBBI in Homer, where she wears many hats. Her passions include stories involving local agriculture, wild habitats, and arts and culture.
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