ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (WJHL) — Gov. Bill Lee paid a visit to the Tri-Cities on Tuesday, making two stops on his Tennessee 225 initiative tour.
His first stop was the Northeast State campus in Elizabethton behind the Workforce Development Center.
This wasn’t just any stop through Northeast Tennessee, but it was done with a purpose. Carter County leaders are leading a joint effort to secure $20 million in funding to enhance the Northeast State campus by bringing in a number of vocational programs to the existing facility.
The funding would need to be placed into the governor’s next budget, that’s why local leaders hosted a tour through the campus to show firsthand the potential it has and what this opportunity would mean for the students of Carter County.
“I have been to Nashville and showed him the plans and now he’s here to actually see the facility because I really wanted him to lay eyes on the facility and the opportunity that it could bring to Carter County,” Carter County Mayor Patty Woodby said.
Woodby told News Channel 11 she feels the tour went well, with the governor giving a lot of positive feedback.
It’s something she desperately wants for the county.
“I think our children are the greatest asset in our county and all of our communities and the opportunity to give them a quality pathway in a trade or college education is just phenomenal, and also to be debt-free,” Woodby said.
Meanwhile, News Channel 11 also spoke with Gov. Lee who said he feels strongly about vocational education and what it brings to the table.
“We just want to be able to provide access to more people to be skilled up and to have an opportunity to go to working meaningful ways. It’s really just, again, back to opportunity,” Lee said.
Lee also stopped in Unicoi at Jones and Church Farms to emphasize the importance of agriculture and agriculture education across the state.
He said these are the type of jobs that drive in big companies.
“This effort towards workforce development that we’re seeing here, changes the landscape,” Lee said. “It makes Tennessee an attractive place and I think that’s part of the reason the effort that we’ve put out in the last few years towards workforce development is part of the reason we’re seeing a record number of companies come here.”