Community celebrates opening of new Anderson County Higher Education Center

By Bob Fowler
Roane State staff writer

The new Anderson County Higher Education Center “is an example of what should be happening” to spur workforce development, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee told a large crowd on Friday, December 10.

Gesturing to students in the back who will be attending classes at the center starting in January, Gov. Lee thanked them for “pursuing the path you’re pursuing.”

“The private sector drives what we’re doing here,” Gov. Lee told attendees crowded into the spacious classroom where diesel powered technology will soon be taught.

In the planning and construction stages for years, the center will soon offer several Roane State Community College and Tennessee College of Applied Technology Knoxville classes.

It’s a 48,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility where more than 200 students will be enrolled. It cost $11 million, and SL Tennessee, an auto parts manufacturer next door, donated seven acres for the center, located on Frank L. Diggs Drive in the Clinton/I-75 Industrial Park.

“When we all work together, we can accomplish a lot in a short period of time,” SL Tennessee manager Scott Laska said.

Roane State’s mechatronics classes, now in a former National Guard Armory in Clinton, along with the community college’s injection molding and robotics courses, will now be located at the center.

TCAT classes, which had been housed for six years in a former grocery store on Andersonville Highway, will also be held in the new center. Those programs will include welding, diesel power equipment technology, auto tech, industrial maintenance, and building trades.

With the center, “We will be opening opportunities for the people in our county and region,” Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank said. She called the facility “a win for the people who will find their lives changed, their horizons broadened and their futures brighter.”

Dr. Flora Tydings, chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents, praised the “great partnership between TCAT and the community college.”

“Students here are going to go on to a bright future,” she predicted.

Listening to the remarks were students who will be attending classes at the new center. “It’s a beautiful facility,” said Trevor Martin, who had been studying industrial maintenance at TCAT’s location in the remodeled grocery story. “It’s much better than the old facility. They really wanted the best for us.”

Scott Loyd, a high school senior now taking welding classes at the Anderson County Vocational Center, also praised the new facility. “It’s a good school, it seems like,” he said. “I feel like I’ll get somewhere if I go here.”

“I’m very much looking forward to having classes here in January.”

For more information on the new Anderson County Higher Education Center, visit roanestate.edu/anderson.

About Bob Fowler

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