One of Fayetteville's greatest economic assets is its deep talent pool, which remains strong thanks to the innovative efforts of the city's education and business communities.
Fayetteville Virtual Academy, the state's first online charter school for grades 4-12, helps prepare students for the workforce by exposing them to a variety of industries and career paths. Students engage in weekly field experiences, such as working with local photographers and videographers to create a documentary, and collecting water samples and conducting experiments at Lake Fayetteville.
"Our students worked to create business plans and completed a proposal contest similar to Shark Tank," says JoAnna Lever, principal of Fayetteville Virtual Academy. "Theatre Squared came to FVA and taught our students about the elements of theater over the course of six weeks using Shakespeare’s plays."
Lever says in addition to hands-on learning, FVA also gives students the flexibility to learn at their own pace.
"The flexibility students have when attending Fayetteville Virtual Academy allows them to spend more time on concepts that are more challenging, get one-on-one help from their teachers and get involved in clubs and go on field experiences," Lever says. "Students can also spend more time refining their craft – several of the FVA students are musicians and dancers. We also have student athletes who travel and compete nationally. High schoolers are able to work or job shadow or complete internships and complete their school work at night and on the weekends."
Several Fayetteville-based companies offer everything from flexible hours to yoga classes, as well as providing video games, karaoke machines and basketball games to encourage fun and camaraderie.
That type of flexibility is what helps businesses such as CaseStack, a logistics outsourcing company focused on collaboration and technology, retain top talent. CaseStack has been praised for offering employees generous benefits packages, as well as flexible work schedules.
"We all take our professions and our careers seriously, but there are many aspects to our lives. Our work is important, but we all need a little flexibility and benefits, so we can feel safe and function at our best," says Dan Sanker, CaseStack president and CEO. "The company needs to always consider that we want to make it possible for people here to integrate life and work."
Sanker says CaseStack also hosts events that allow employees to spend time together.
"We are all part of a family in a way, so we have some extras where we can spend time together. For example, we have light meals and snacks every other week – called Poor man's because they fall on non-payroll weeks – and we have events and teams that many people participate in. Those give us all opportunities to work together in a relaxed setting."