The Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center on the Blount County Campus of Pellissippi State Community College opened Aug. 16 – just ahead of students returning for fall semester which started Aug. 25.
The $16.5 million center includes space for TCAT Knoxville and a Corporate Training Center for business and industry partners. It was created “with Blount County partners to serve the Blount County community, said Aneisa Rolen, executive director of the Pellissippi State Foundation.
The 51,000-square-foot center was designed to help fill the area’s need for highly skilled, college-educated employees. Blount County has experienced $2.1 billion in new capital investment and announced 4,570 new jobs since 2015, according to the Blount Partnership.
The workforce development center will include four Pellissippi State programs:
- Computer information technology, cyber defense and networking concentrations
- Culinary arts, including its new baking and pastry arts option
- Business, management and hospitality management concentrations
- Electrical engineering technology
The building will include three TCAT Knoxville programs, giving that school its first footprint in Blount County:
- Industrial maintenance/mechatronics
- Machine tool technology
- Welding technology
TCAT Knoxville President Kelli Chaney said it’s energizing to get involved in Blount County with leaders who promote hands-on learning. “It takes all of us working together to drive economic and workforce development.”
The workforce development center will allow Pellissippi State to increase its dual enrollment opportunities with Alcoa, Maryville and Blount County high schools, helping fill the local pipeline with educated and experienced employees.
Steve West said, “It’s not like it was when I was young.” He is the longtime owner of West Chevrolet and a former mayor of Maryville. “A good attitude and willingness to learn, while important, are not enough in today’s economy. We need more specialized training to fill these jobs.”
In addition to the Wests, the workforce development center received significant donations from the Blount County Economic Development Board (Blount County government, city of Maryville, city of Alcoa), Arconic Foundation, Appalachian Regional Commission, Blackberry Farm Foundation, Blount Memorial Hospital, Care Institute Group Inc., Clayton, Clayton Foundation, DENSO, William E. Harmon, Crissy and Bill Haslam, Ted and Drama Russell Family Foundation and The Thompson Charitable Foundation.
Meanwhile, the 3,250-square-foot corporate training center will increase the college’s capacity to provide training for industry partners. Pellissippi State’s Business and Community Services already trains more than 4,000 individuals annually.
Lesli Bales-Sherrod does marketing and writing for Pellissippi State Community College.