(Concept art of what the TCAT facility might look like)
Local leaders are praising the state for including $42.4 million in the approved 2021-22 budget to build a new Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Shelbyville campus in 231 North Business Park.
TCAT-Shelbyville currently has a waiting list of 550 students, primarily because of space limitations at its flagship facility on Madison Street in Shelbyville. The new 117,000-square-foot Bedford County Higher Education Center facility will enable many more students to receive the training they need for high-quality, good-paying jobs.
The new campus’s proximity to other industries, including future tenants of 231 North Business Park, will facilitate partnerships and customized training programs that will benefit existing industries and make Bedford County a more attractive destination for new facilities.
“This new TCAT will be a game-changer for our region,” said State Rep. Pat Marsh, who worked with State Sen. Shane Reeves to include the project in the state budget.
“The Tennessee College of Applied Technology Shelbyville campus has a long-standing reputation of producing a quality workforce for our area,” said TCAT-Shelbyville President Dr. Laura Monks. “This is due to the highly qualified faculty and student-success-centered staff. This is also due to the support of the community, government leaders, and area industry.
“In today's job market, it is very important for our campus to be ready to supply a larger number of trained individuals to meet workforce demands of current and future industry partners in our area. A new TCAT Shelbyville main campus will bring an innovative approach to workforce development while also increasing the classroom and lab space and increasing the number of programs offered.
“In turn, more students can enroll in our programs and more short-term training can be provided to address immediate workforce gaps. We are looking forward to expanding our dual enrollment partnership with Bedford County also. This will allow more high school students to achieve one or more workforce credentials before graduating from high school. Students now and for many generations will have better lives because of the increased opportunities available at the Bedford County Higher Education Center through the Tennessee College of Applied Technology Shelbyville.
“Thank you to our governmental leaders for having the vision to bring an innovative center of higher education to Bedford County!”
“The state’s decision to fund the new Tennessee College of Applied Technology / Bedford County Higher Education Center is far-sighted,” said County Mayor Chad Graham. “This facility is an innovative way to meet Tennessee’s most critical economic challenge, workforce training. It will benefit not only Bedford County but all Middle Tennessee.
“This new facility will help TCAT get hundreds of students off the waiting list and put them on the fast track to employment. It will also help high school students take advantage of dual enrollment, earning college credits while still in high school.
“Better training means a better workforce, and that opens the door for better jobs, whether from existing employers, startups, or companies moving into our area. TCAT will be able to better work with employers on specialized programs that can help meet their needs.
“On behalf of everyone in Bedford County, I want to thank the General Assembly, Gov. Lee, and especially our state legislators, Sen. Shane Reeves and Rep. Pat Marsh, for putting the project into this year’s budget. Shane and Pat shared our vision for the project and worked hard to make it possible.
“This facility will make an enormous difference in the lives of everyone in Bedford County, and I could not be more delighted to see the project put into motion.”
Tennessee Board of Regents oversees that Tennessee College of Applied Technology program statewide. TCAT-Shelbyville has a seven-county service area, with satellite facilities in Fayetteville and Winchester and additional teaching sites in Lewisburg and at Middle Tennessee Education Center in Shelbyville.
Bedford County and the City of Shelbyville have given 20 acres in 231 North Business Park to TCAT to support the project. The new $42.4 million allocation will be combined with $4 million in pre-existing funding which TCAT had set aside for expansion.