BLOUNTVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced a grant award of $843,000 for Northeast State Community College to fund needed equipment for advanced technology programs at the school.
The governor proposed and the General Assembly approved $16.5 million in this year’s budget for equipment and technology related to workforce development programs at Tennessee colleges of applied technology and community colleges, part of Haslam’s “Drive to 55” effort to increase the number of Tennesseans with post-secondary credentials.
These strategic investments resulted from the governor meeting with businesses and education officials across the state last fall to better understand workforce development needs. One of the most common themes he heard was the lack of capacity and equipment at Tennessee colleges of applied technology and community colleges to meet job demand, so these grants are aimed at addressing those gaps.
“This grant will provide equipment that will assist in Northeast State’s mission of training workers for the modern workplace,” Haslam said. “We will need qualified Tennesseans to fill skilled positions, and Northeast State is playing a significant role in meeting that goal.”
Currently, only 32 percent of Tennesseans have certificates or degrees beyond high school, and studies show that by 2025 that number must be 55 percent to meet workforce demands. Haslam’s Drive to 55 initiative is designed to address that workforce need on several fronts, including the funds for the state’s colleges of applied technology and community colleges.
The new equipment for Northeast State Community College will allow the school to expand its robotics manufacturing training lab, add a mechatronics training lab and upgrade equipment for its welding and machine tool programs. More than 200 advanced technologies students a year will benefit from the enhanced training capabilities provided by this grant.
Haslam and the Tennessee General Assembly included almost $33 million in the state budget this year toward building a technical education complex at Northeast State.