Blount Memorial pledges $100,000 to new workforce development center

BMH officials present big check to Pellissippi State officials
Blount Memorial Hospital CEO Don Heinemann and BMH Board of Directors President Robert Redwine, from left, present Pellissippi State Dean of Nursing Angela Lunsford, President L. Anthony Wise Jr. and Foundation Board of Trustees Vice Chair Andy White with a $100,000 donation for the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center on Aug. 15.

The Blount Memorial Hospital board of directors has pledged $100,000 to help build the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center on Pellissippi State Community College’s Blount County Campus.

“The role that Pellissippi State is playing in helping to develop a versatile workforce in our community is so important to our community’s future and the continued economic development we want to see in Blount County,” said Robert Redwine, president of the Blount Memorial Hospital board of directors. “At Blount Memorial, we certainly see the impact it’s making, as a number of our clinicians and employees have come to us through Pellissippi State. But it isn’t just health careers that Pellissippi State is focused on in our community. Instead, the college’s programs focus on providing individuals the skills needed to do a variety of jobs, and that’s what helps to balance the workforce development in our community and hopefully keep our county’s unemployment numbers low.”

The Pellissippi State Foundation is raising money for the $16.5 million project, which Barber McMurry Architects are designing. Denark Construction expects to break ground this winter on the 53,000-square-foot building that will be used by Pellissippi State and Tennessee College of Applied Technology Knoxville to help fill the area’s need for highly skilled, college-educated employees.

“Blount Memorial Hospital was built by the people of Blount County for the people of Blount County, so it’s no surprise that Blount Memorial is continuing its long legacy of supporting programs that will benefit the people who live and work right here in Blount County,” said Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr., who accepted the $100,000 donation on Thursday at the hospital. “Even in this time when we so often read about community hospitals closing, it’s commendable that Blount Memorial continues to support its community.”

Blount Memorial has supported Pellissippi State since 1993 and has given three major gifts to the college. The first – $15,000 gifted in 2001 – established the Blount Memorial Nursing Scholarship while the second – $150,000 pledged in 2010 – was used to establish a nursing classroom on the college’s Blount County Campus.

This third gift will help make the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center a reality.

“All of Blount Memorial’s gifts to Pellissippi State have helped lead to great jobs and successful careers for Blount County’s children and grandchildren,” Wise said.

Pellissippi State’s part of the workforce development center is expected to house a Smart Factory MegaLab featuring Industry 4.0 curriculum and offer classes in Computer Information Technology, Culinary Arts, Electrical Engineering Technology and Mechanical Engineering Technology. Meanwhile, TCAT’s part of the new building is expected to include classes in Industrial Electrical Maintenance and Welding, Machine Tool Technology and Pipe Fitting.

In addition to traditional college classes, the workforce development center also will allow Pellissippi State to enhance its partnerships with K-12 schools in Blount County, offering dual enrollment classes for high school students, focusing on high-demand career skills, and to increase its industry partnerships with a new corporate training center that will give local companies extra space and opportunity to train their employees at Pellissippi State.

“We have a longstanding history with Pellissippi State, and we’re honored to continue this relationship by supporting its efforts to continue training and educating Blount Countians in health care careers, as well as the trades,” said Blount Memorial Hospital CEO Don Heinemann. “We know that the demand for health care services is only going to grow, both here locally and nationally, and we applaud Pellissippi State for its vision to focus on these needs, but also those careers that serve as support services to all areas of business and industry in our community. The addition is more than a new building on campus. This workforce development center will open doors for a brighter future for so many in our community.”

Pellissippi State expects to open the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center to students in fall 2021. For more information on the building or to make a donation in support of the project, visit

For more information on Pellissippi State, visit or call 865-694-6400.