ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (WJHL) – TCAT Elizabethton is slated to receive millions to develop a new workforce development partnership, pending Tennessee General Assembly approval.
Gov. Bill Lee included $40 million for the Tennessee College of Applied Technology’s Elizabethton campus in his Fiscal Year 2024 budget proposals.
That would allow TCAT Elizabethton to transform the old Workforce Development Complex near the Elizabethton Municipal Airport into what is being called the Carter County Higher Education Center.
Carter County Mayor Patty Woodby said the facility would cater to a variety of students young and old. It’s a partnership between TCAT Elizabethton, Northeast State Community College and Carter County Schools.
“You’re going to have a pilot facility like no other at that property,” Woodby said. “It will be a pilot facility for the state. At this point in time there is not one available in the state that will house those entities that will work together.”
The General Assembly will need to approve Gov. Lee’s budget to make it happen, but Woodby is confident the measure has the support it needs to stay in.
The TCAT Elizabethton funding is part of a $900 million budget proposal that would renovate and expand TCAT facilities across the state, completing TCAT’s master plan.
That includes six new campus locations, including the Carter County Higher Education Center, seven replacement campuses, and 16 new TCAT buildings, additions and improvements.
Tennessee Board of Regents Communications Director Rick Locker said it would be the state’s biggest investment in TCAT to date.
“This is really just a historic, generational investment in career and technical education in Tennessee,” Locker said. “It will change lives and benefit our state, our communities and students literally from Memphis to Mountain City.”
Much of those improvements will replace aging campus infrastructure, much of which was built in the 1960s.
Woodby said once the workforce development complex property is officially transferred to the state, it will be up to them to determine whether the building is renovated or completely rebuilt.
Regardless, Woodby expects the facility to offer classes in a variety of professions, including some new to TCAT Elizabethton.
“We want to offer our children more options, whether it be through the skill trades, whether it be through an associates degree, or whether it be getting an associates degree and your high school diploma and going straight into the work force,” Woodby said.
She said it means big things for economic development in Carter County.
“The numbers tell us that anywhere there’s a TCAT, the workforce and the industry want to move closer to a TCAT,” Woodby said. “TCAT pushes out those skilled members of society.”
Woodby said she expects construction to start sometime in the spring or summer if the funding stays in the budget.
TCAT is also planning an expansion of its Elizabethton campus into Washington County.
Locker said they are building a new Elizabethton satellite campus at the old Boones Creek Elementary site.
He said plans are to open that facility for the fall 2023 semester with four areas of study being offered.
That includes building construction technology, industrial electricity, cosmetology and practical nursing.