TCAT celebrates results of USDA grant

June 24, 2016 – Last year, the Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Morristown (TCAT) became the recipient of a $110,020 Rural Business Development grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  The grant was to be used at the Morristown & Hawkins County campuses to assist with the purchase of state-of-the-art technology equipment to be used in advanced manufacturing programs.

Staff members are now celebrating the completion of the grant which, over the last year, has purchased two precision surface grinders for the machine tool technology program in Morristown, one process control trainer (factory in a box) for the industrial program in Hawkins County and, for the industrial maintenance program in Morristown, one pneumatic trainer, one hydraulic trainer, one programmable logic control (PLC) trainer, one motor control and PLC trouble shooting trainer, one modular automation training system and four laptop computers.

“We want the community to know about the role USDA Rural Development plays in workforce development and the impact that grants such as this have on our local efforts to provide a trained, skilled pipeline of employees to the companies in our service area,” Labor & Education Alignment Program project manager Chris Edmonds said.  According to the project narrative, “Advanced Manufacturing Skills for the Lakeway Area,” there is a need for advanced manufacturing skills in the country and the state.  TCAT was identified as a key component in providing those skills.

In the Lakeway Area, the school strives to provide programs needed in the community and are successful.  In 2014, in the 13 technical programs offered, the school had a 90 percent placement rate.  Because of the growth prediction of industrial electricity, industrial maintenance and machine tool technology needs in the area, the grant was used to strengthen the school’s corresponding programs in order to maintain the high placement and success rates.

Without the grant, this would not have been possible and the school’s area connections would not have seen the benefit – these connections include citizens of Claiborne, Cocke, Grainger, Hancock, Hamblen, Hawkins, Jefferson, Sevier and Union counties and all area chambers of commerce, industrial boards and school systems.  “USDA Rural Development area director Joe Woody and area specialist Chuck Morris understand workforce development and have been fantastic to work with for the past year,” Edmonds said.

TCAT did provide matching funds of just more than $30,000.  This amount was taken from L.E.A.P funds and was used to purchase a process control training system.

Morristown Area Chamber of Commerce * 825 W. First North Street * P.O. Box 9 * Morristown, TN 37815 * 423-586-6382 * 423-586-6576 fax