Governor Bill Lee on Thursday, Nov. 7 announced projects receiving funding through the Governor’s Investment in Vocational Education (GIVE) program, which prioritizes learning opportunities in rural counties and enhances career and technical education statewide.
“We are proud to work with the General Assembly to pass the GIVE initiative and expand career and technical education for Tennessee students,” Gov. Lee said. “These funds directly support our workforce development efforts in distressed and at-risk counties and are a key component of our strategy to prioritize rural Tennessee.”
Among the GIVE projects and recipients is Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) at Livingston with two projects. TCAT Livingston will receive $1,000,000 for Diesel Maintenance, and will also receive $1,000,000 for fabricating a new workforce in Clay County through Welding Technology.
Earlier this year, the General Assembly approved $25 million in the governor’s budget to incentivize collaboration at the local level among stakeholders such as higher education institutions, K-12 and economic development partners.
The award process began in June when Tennessee Higher Education Commission issued a competitive Request for Proposals (RFP). Each proposal was required to show local data that clearly identified both workforce needs and a sustainable plan utilizing equipment, work-based learning experiences, or recognized industry certifications to increase the state’s competitiveness and postsecondary attainment goals.
The program prioritized economically distressed and at-risk counties in the RFP process. The 28 funded projects will serve all economically distressed counties and 18 of the 24 at-risk counties.
The Appalachian Regional Commission index of economic status categorizes counties as at-risk or distressed based upon their 3-year average unemployment rate, per capita market income, and poverty rates. Distressed counties rank among the 10% most economically distressed in the nation while at-risk counties rank between the bottom 10% and 25% of the nation’s counties.
State Senator Paul Bailey (R-Sparta) said on Thursday, Nov. 7, “This is tremendous news for our TCAT which does a great job in preparing students for the workplace.
Sen. Bailey, is chairman of the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee.
“From the state perspective, raising the number of citizens with a post-secondary credential or degree helps us recruit new and better paying jobs and our economic output; however, that is only part of the story,” Sen.Bailey said. “More importantly is the positive impact that the credential or degree has on the students and their families.
“I love hearing the success stories from students who have graduated from our TCATs. These grants will increase opportunities for local students to experience this success.”