McMinn EDC Hosts First Annual Workforce Summit: Bridging the Gap Between Business and Education

McMinn EDC Hosts First Annual Workforce Summit: Bridging the Gap Between Business and Education Main Photo

18 Apr 2024

The McMinn County Economic Development Authority recently held its inaugural Workforce Summit, a rebranded event formerly known as the plant managers' meeting. This shift in name reflects a strategic effort to broaden participation and foster a more collaborative environment. The summit proved successful, drawing a full house of representatives from diverse industries.

The summit's central theme revolved around bridging the gap between McMinn County's workforce needs and the educational opportunities offered within the county. Local businesses face a crucial challenge in acquiring skilled workers, and the summit aimed to address this by fostering communication and collaboration between business leaders, educators, and workforce development organizations.

Highlighting Local Educational Resources

A vital aspect of the summit involved presentations from the three leading training providers and institutions of higher education in McMinn County. Each institution is currently under new leadership, and the summit provided a platform for these new presidents to introduce themselves and showcase their respective programs:

  • Susan Hatto, President of Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT): TCAT offers a range of technical training programs designed to equip students with the skills needed for high-demand jobs in the local economy.
  • Dr. Andy White, President of Cleveland State Community College (CSCC): CSCC provides a comprehensive curriculum of associate degrees and certificate programs, offering students a pathway to further education or direct entry into the workforce.
  • Dr. Tyler Forrest, President of Tennessee Wesleyan University (TWU): TWU is a four-year liberal arts university that offers bachelor's degrees in various fields.

Collaboration is Key

In addition to these presentations, the summit featured representatives from the Tennessee Department of Labor, Apprenticeship and Pre-apprenticeship programs, the Southeast Workforce Board, the Southeast Industrial Development Association, and the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. This diverse group of stakeholders engaged in a roundtable discussion on identifying current workforce trends within McMinn County's industries and anticipating future challenges. A crucial point of emphasis was the need for collaboration amongst the training providers to create a seamless pathway of credentials. This would allow students to progress from TCAT certificate programs to CSCC associate degrees and potentially bachelor's degrees at TWU.

Lindsey Ferguson, Executive Director of the McMinn Economic Development Authority, states, “The workforce summit was valuable for fostering communication and collaboration between businesses, educators, and workforce development organizations. By bridging the gap between the workforce's needs and the resources offered by local educational institutions, the summit can create a more skilled and competitive workforce within McMinn County.”

The McMinn County Economic Development Authority team can answer your questions about growing your local business. We will work with you to determine the best resources needed to advance your business and provide you with professional advice on making economic progress in the business world. Don’t hesitate to call us at (423) 745-1506 or email us at!