KINGSPORT — If city leaders hadn’t stepped forward with more than $4 million in local funding, a Tennessee education official said the Regional Center for Health Professions (RCHP) would still be awaiting state funding.
Instead, Northeast State Technical Community College’s RCHP had a ribbon cutting Thursday afternoon and is to open for about 400 students Monday. It will house all of Blountville-based Northeast State’s health programs and a cohort of King College’s nursing program.
“If you were waiting for the state, you’d be in a line,” Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor Charles Manning said of a customary 10-year wait for new college construction funding.
“You stepped forward and did something about it yourself,” Manning said. “We are a low-tax state, and by golly we want to stay that way. That means we must have more local support.”
The RCHP houses Northeast State’s Division of Nursing and five health-related professions programs — Cardiovascular Technology, Dental Assisting, EMT-Paramedic, Medical Laboratory Technology and Surgical Technology.
Northeast State agreed to put all of it medical programs under one roof in Kingsport if the city would build the facility.
The 42,000-square-foot health facility — built over seven months — was projected to cost $4.7 million, but only $4.3 million has been spent to date, City Manager John Campbell said.
The two-story building includes state-of-the-art equipment such as mannequins that simulate patients.
Northeast State President Bill Locke said the RCHP, combined with the Regional Center for Applied Technology (RCAT) and the pending Regional Center for Higher Education and Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing — both to open this time next year — would become the core of the Academic Village downtown.
Officials of the schools that will offer four-year degrees in the Regional Center for Higher Education — the University of Tennessee, King College, Milligan College and Lincoln Memorial University — met at the RCAT just before the ribbon cutting to sign a consortium agreement.
Northeast State will offer an associate degree and provide the first two years of general education courses. The participating four-year institutions will offer bachelor’s degrees in specific academic programs.
Construction began on the higher education center in July. The building is scheduled to open in the fall of 2009.