TCAT Director Dean Blevins said $8.3 million would be needed to renovate and equip the former TVA Spec Building in the Doe Valley Industrial Park, located at 241 Industrial Park Road in Mountain City. The 50,000 square foot spec building would be converted into four shops, four classrooms, a Tech Foundations Lab and an Industrial training Lab.
By establishing the Johnson County Extension Campus, it is estimated it would generate an estimated 35 percent increase in certificates awarded by TCAT Elizabethton toward the Drive to 55 goals. In September 2016, more than 59 students were commuting from their residence in Johnson County to TCAT Elizabethton’s Main Campus, located across from the Elizabethton Municipal Airport on Highway 91 north.
The commute from Johnson County takes approximately one-hour, traveling 34 miles, one way, in all kinds of weather. Students must travel Tennessee Highway 67 West, around Watauga Lake, or take Tennessee Highway 91 through Shady Valley. Both mountainous scenic routes are two-lane with switchback curves.
Following an informal survey of local business and industry in Johnson County, TCAT Elizabethton plans to offer a hybrid automotive & diesel program; multi-skill construction trades (residential and commercial wiring, plumbing, carpentry, HVAC, and industrial maintenance; licensed practical nursing; and administrative office technology, according to Blevins.
“Establishing an extension campus in Mountain City by 2019 is one of the goals in the 2015 Tennessee Board of Regents Strategic Plan, TCAT Elizabethton’s governing body. Representatives of TCAT Elizabethton have meet with local and state governing officials to secure funding to build and operate an extension campus in Johnson County,” Blevins said.
The Tennessee Higher Education Commission received $24.25 million to be awarded through a competitive grant process. The Drive to 55 Project Capacity Fund Grant Competition Request for Proposals must be received by THEC in Nashville by Oct. 7.
THEC plans to announce recipients of the grant award on Nov. 17.