SURGOINSVILLE — It looks like a new truck driving school may be coming to the Phipps Bend Industrial Park after all, although the name of the trucking company involved isn’t being released until the deal is finalized.
The nine-week course would be taught at the Phipps Bend campus of the Tennessee College of Applied Science, with TCAT providing the training and location, and the trucking company providing the trucks, fuel and insurance.
Morristown TCAT president Jerry Young, who also oversees the Phipps Bend campus, originally announced the program to the Hawkins County Industrial Development Board in January, noting that he’d worked with the trucking company involved while he was at the Crossville TCAT.
Young told the IDB on Thursday, however, that the company then opted out of the program.
“They first wanted to come in, the company I worked with before,” Young said. “We did all the leg work, and then the head guy in Atlanta said they weren’t doing anymore schools, they were going to do their own thing.”
Apparently, the head guy “isn’t in the loop” anymore, Young noted.
“They called me last week, and I was on the phone with the regional manager yesterday (Wednesday),” Young said. “He said that they made a mistake, and they really would like to work with us if we would still be willing to work with them.”
Young added, “So, we’re back on track. Probably looking at sometime in the spring because obviously COVID has slowed everything down. But, we’ll have to get our paperwork in to the state and have to get the site approved. … They’ve got a big contract in Kingsport, and of course the industrial park, so we’re back on. I’m going to be more hopeful. I was pretty hopeful before but I’m going to be more hopeful this time that they’re going to continue and we’re going to get the program rolling up there.”
IDC Chairman Larry Elkins said a truck driving school is badly needed in Hawkins County.
“As you drive around you see all of the signs, especially on trucks, needing drivers,” Elkins said. “That’s a great thing to offer local people where they can get certified — CDL and get their truck driver training right there at Phipps Bend.
Young noted that it’s a nine-week training program that leads to a minimum $45,000 starting pay job.