Pellissippi State addresses community’s COVID-19 job losses with free training program

Student in Electrical Engineering TechnologyPellissippi State Community College is launching a free, noncredit training program designed for individuals whose finances or job outlook were negatively impacted by COVID-19.  

The two-part Reimagine Your Career program is for anyone who, at any time since March 2020, has been let go from a job, laid off permanently or temporarily, experienced a reduction in hours or wages, or has had to take a new job that pays less, due to the pandemic. 

Reimagine Your Career features foundational career skills as well as career-specific training. Participants choose the career track they’d like to pursue from options such as customer service, information technology and manufacturing. 

“We focused on career tracks that had the greatest need in the Knoxville area and tracks that would allow someone to fully complete the training and earn an industry-recognized credential in a fairly short amount of time,” said Teri Brahams, executive director of economic and workforce development for Pellissippi State. 

Pellissippi State has partnered with over a dozen local businesses that are actively hiring positions within each Reimagine Your Career track, including Keurig Dr Pepper, Avero Advisors, Timken, Flowers Foods and more. At the end of the program, participants are guaranteed an interview with at least one of the partnering businesses. 

“This is a great opportunity for both the individuals in our community that were impacted negatively from the pandemic and for the businesses that make up our local economy,” Brahams said. “There are people who are seeking a meaningful career path and financial stability, and there are businesses that need people with certain skillsets to fill their open positions. It’s a win-win situation we’re helping provide.” 

students in electrical engineering technology in 2020While the Reimagine Your Career program is provided at no cost to the participants, there is an investment of time. The career foundations training is a 36-hour commitment, while the training in specific career tracks vary from 36 to 140 hours. 

“We know that people are often juggling multiple responsibilities from parenting to working part-time or full-time jobs to taking care of family members, so it was important to us to offer several options,” Brahams said.  

Fall sessions are scheduled at the following times and locations:  

  • Tuesdays & Thursdays, Sept. 7-Oct. 14, 5:30-8:30 p.m. at the Blount County Campus 
  • Tuesdays & Thursdays, Sept. 7-Oct. 14, 5:30-8:30 p.m. at the Hardin Valley Campus 
  • Wednesdays & Fridays, Sept. 8-Oct. 8, 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at the Magnolia Avenue Campus 
  • Tuesdays & Thursdays, Nov. 2-Dec. 14, 5:30-8:30 p.m. at the Blount County Campus 
  • Tuesdays & Thursdays, Nov. 2-Dec. 14, 5:30-8:30 p.m. at the Hardin Valley Campus 
  • Wednesdays & Fridays, Nov. 10-Dec. 10, 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at the Magnolia Avenue Campus

For more information or to apply for the Reimagine Your Career program, visit www.pstcc.edu/reimagine or call Business and Community Services at 865-539-7167. 

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National report highlights Knoxville gluten-free bakery assisted by Tennessee Small Business Development Center

Lynette Casazza started a gluten free bakery from her home kitchen in 2015, after two of her children were diagnosed with a health condition requiring a gluten free diet.
Lynette Casazza of Mama C’s Gluten Free Goodies started a gluten-free bakery from her home kitchen in 2015, after two of her children were diagnosed with a health condition requiring a gluten-free diet. She now has a storefront in South Knoxville.

Mama C’s Gluten Free Goodies, a client of the Tennessee Small Business Development Center that is hosted by Pellissippi State, is highlighted in a new national report launched last week. 

“In these challenging times, America’s Small Business Development Centers play a critical role in assuring the health of small businesses: helping them access capital needed for growth, navigating the uncertainty of the market, providing advice on compliance with government regulations, and being first responders when natural disaster requires intensive and long-term consulting,” according to a press release announcing the new national report. 

Mama C’s is included as an example of a SBDC client that is helping an underserved community. You can find Mama C’s highlighted in the Tennessee section of the report. 

Lynette Casazza started a gluten-free bakery from her home kitchen in 2015, after two of her children were diagnosed with a health condition requiring a gluten-free diet. She began baking and selling her gluten-free goodies — including dairy-free and nut-free items — at local farmers’ markets and expanded to a storefront in South Knoxville in 2019. 

“Lynette has been a client of the center since the start of the bakery,” explained TSBDC Director Laura Overstreet. “TSBDC staff provided start-up assistance and continued to assist Lynnette, resulting in the expansion of Mama C’s to a storefront location. With this expansion, Lynette needed help navigating the process of hiring new employees and setting up payroll in Quickbooks.” 

TSBDC was able to provide that assistance. Casazza is now successfully processing payroll through QuickBooks and handling her own bookkeeping, and her bakery added four jobs as a result of the expansion. 

“It has been wonderful working with the TSBDC and (Senior Business Specialist) Teresa Sylvia,” Casazza said. “She has played a vital role in helping me put together a business plan and executing it to make my dreams come true. When situations have arrived that I’ve needed help with, the TSBDC have always been there to help me through it. Thanks to TSBDC Mama C’s Gluten Free Goodies has met a great need in South Knoxville.” 

TSBDC provides services at no cost for small business owners and potential entrepreneurs. The Knoxville office offers workshops and private consultations ranging from business plan development, government contracting, marketing assistance and financial planning for new and existing small businesses. 

Even as the pandemic engulfed East Tennessee, the TSBDC served 984 unique clients in 2020, delivering 1,134 hours of counseling and providing training to 1,147 participants. TSBDC also assisted clients in securing over $11 million in disaster loans. 

“TSBDC is a powerful resource for our local small businesses to grow and thrive, all at no cost,” said Teri Brahams, Pellissippi State’s executive director, Economic and Workforce Development. 

For more information on the TSBDC, visit www.tsbdc.org/pscc/.  For more information on Mama C’s, visit www.mamacsglutenfree.com

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Free webinar highlights Knoxville as major hub for production vision, talent, output

The Pellissippi State Community College Media Technologies program will continue its free webinar series titled “The Art, Science & Impact of Digital Storytelling” on Dec. 1, with a focus on “Building Greater Knoxville’s National Reputation as a Creative Community.” 

The session will take place 12:30-2 p.m. Eastern over Zoom. Registration is open now for professionals, faculty, students and alumni in digital, creative and strategic communications 

“Building Greater Knoxville’s National Reputation as a Creative Community” will focus on the region’s wealth of creative intellectual assets and highlight Knoxville as a major hub of production vision, talent and output.  

The session, which will be moderated by Mary Beth West of Fletcher Marketing PR, will spotlight the future direction and demand for creative and production services. Panelists including Deborah Allen of Catalina Content, Doug Lawyer of the Knoxville Chamber and Joe Richani of Jewelry Television will address how the region can best position itself to grow and adapt to workforce development needs. 

This webinar series is sponsored by The Hive, Bagwell Entertainment and Jupiter Entertainment and will conclude Jan. 22 with “The Media Technologies Workforce Pipeline & 2021 Employer Hiring Priorities.” 

For more information on the webinar series or to register for upcoming sessions, visit www.pstcc.edu/bcs/mediatech

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Arconic Foundation funds new afterschool program with Pellissippi State

Jeff Weida, plant manager for Arconic Tennessee Operations, left, and Christy Newman, manager of communications and community relations for Arconic Tennessee Operations, right, present a grant to start the Pellissippi Youth Scholars Program in Blount County to Teri Brahams, Pellissippi State’s executive director for economic and workforce development, and Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. on Oct. 23.
Jeff Weida, plant manager for Arconic Tennessee Operations, left, and Christy Newman, manager of communications and community relations for Arconic Tennessee Operations, right, present a grant to start the Pellissippi Youth Scholars Program in Blount County to Teri Brahams, Pellissippi State’s executive director for economic and workforce development, and Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. on Oct. 23.

Arconic Foundation has awarded Pellissippi State Community College $50,000 to start a new afterschool program for children in Blount County. 

The Pellissippi Youth Scholars Program, which will be implemented at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center in Alcoa and the Boys & Girls Club in Maryville, will focus on career awareness, exploration and preparation for high-wage, high-demand advanced manufacturing and coding careers. The program will offer concentrations in robotics, additive manufacturing, coding, hydraulics and pneumatics. 

“The earlier a student is introduced to these jobs, the sooner they will see an optimistic future open to career-connected learning,” said Teri Brahams, executive director for economic and workforce development for Pellissippi State. “Exposing students to these career opportunities in middle school will allow them to better use their time in high school to prepare for the path they’ll take after graduation.  

Having an exciting experience with the Pellissippi Youth Scholars Program could not only spark their interest in these careers, but also could help students understand the importance of taking advanced math, science and English courses in high school,” she added. 

The program, which will begin January 2021, will be led by a Pellissippi State employee, although the College is recruiting volunteers from industry and the community to help.  Activities will be interactive and age appropriate, introducing participants to the basic terminology and concepts that are critical to each concentration. Students will learn how to use the basic types of equipment common to each field and will build new skills through hands-on instruction. Guest speakers will help students make the connection between what they are learning and a real job.  

The Pellissippi Youth Scholars Program also will focus on critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity – four areas regularly identified by area business and industry leaders as skills that their employees need. Activities will address the barriers students may face when considering one of these career pathways and will highlight the resources available throughout the community to help them. Inspiring self-esteem in students is another program goal. 

“Blount County employers are emphasizing a desire to hire a more diverse workforce, but many underrepresented populations may not be aware of the opportunities for a career in advanced manufacturing or the educational pathway needed to be successful in manufacturing,” Brahams said. “This program will address both of these challenges.” 

The Pellissippi Youth Scholars Program is open to students attending afterschool programs held at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center in Alcoa and the Boys & Girls Club in Maryville. However, those who would like to volunteer to help with the program should contact Teri Brahams at tbrahams@pstcc.edu. 

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Pellissippi State breaks ground for long-awaited workforce development center in Blount County

Eight officials with shovels in front of a bulldozer
Among the dignitaries celebrating the groundbreaking for the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center are, from left, state Rep. Jerome Moon, donors Steve and Ruth West, Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr., Tennessee College of Applied Technology Knoxville President Kelli Chaney, state Sen. Art Swann, state Rep. Bob Ramsey and Blount Partnership CEO Bryan Daniels.

Pellissippi State Community College broke ground today on its new Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center, a joint project with Tennessee College of Applied Technology Knoxville. 

The 51,000-square-foot building on the College’s Blount County Campus will help fill the area’s need for highly skilled, college-educated employees. Blount County has experienced $2.8 million in new capital investment and announced 5,500 new jobs since 2011, according to the Blount Partnership. 

Named for longtime Blount County Campus benefactors Ruth and Steve West, the workforce development center will include space for Pellissippi State’s Computer Information Technology, Culinary Arts, Electrical Engineering Technology and Electromechanical Engineering programs while TCAT will have space for its Engineering Technology program, giving that college its first footprint in Blount County. 

Steve and Ruth West in front of artist rendering of new building named for him
Steve and Ruth West stand in front of an artist rendering of the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center that is being built on Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus.

“I was on the Blount County Industrial Board for 20 years, and we brought a lot of diverse companies in and continue to do so,” said Mr. West, longtime owner of West Chevrolet and a former mayor of Maryville. “But it’s not like it was when I was young. A good attitude and willingness to learn, while important, are not enough in today’s economy. We need more specialized training to fill these jobs.” 

The center will help fill that gap, with a unique, integrated approach to workforce development. In addition to Pellissippi State’s partnership with TCAT, the workforce development center also represents a K-12 partnership, offering dual enrollment classes for high school students, focusing on high-demand career skills. Meanwhile, a new corporate training center will give the College’s local industry partners extra space and opportunity to train their employees at Pellissippi State. 

“Our institutional mission at Pellissippi State is to provide a transformative environment that fosters the academic, social, economic and cultural enrichment of individuals and of our community,” said Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. “The Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center is going to embody that mission in a tangible way, helping us prepare Blount County students for high-demand careers that will sustain them and their families economically and allow them to stay right here at home instead of leaving in search of well-paying jobs. 

For example, the new building will include a 4,890-square-foot Culinary Institute that will allow the College to expand its Culinary Arts degree program and industry-recognized certification programs, increasing the number of graduates ready to fill in-demand culinary positions at hotels, restaurants, farmsteads, breweries, wineries and resorts across Blount, Knox and surrounding counties.

Dignitaries with shovels in front of bulldozer
Also celebrating the groundbreaking for the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center today are, from left, Blount County Campus Dean Priscilla Duenkel, Blount County Mayor Ed Mitchell, Jeff Weida of Arconic Tennessee, Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr., TCAT President Kelli Chaney, Louisville Mayor Tom Bickers, Don Heinemann of Blount Memorial Hospital, Bob Booker of DENSO and Maryville Mayor Tom Taylor. Not pictured is Alcoa Mayor Clint Abbott.

The workforce development center will also help us serve our industry partners by providing  more space to train their employees and offering individuals the continuing education that helps them move to the next level in their careers,” said Teri Brahams, executive director of Economic and Workforce Development for Pellissippi State. And with the flexible space located right outside our new Culinary Institute, the College can provide the community space to host events and have them catered by our Culinary Arts students. It’s a win for everyone.” 

Construction of the $16.5 million building, which was funded by the state of Tennessee and TCAT in addition to Pellissippi State, is projected to be complete in February 2022.  

The fundraising team with shovels
Among those who have been working hard behind the scenes are fundraising team members Joy Bishop and Sharon Hannum, Chuck Griffin of BarberMcMurry Architects, Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr., TCAT President Kelli Chaney, fundraising team members Christy Newman, Andy White and Mary Beth West, Raja Jubran of Denark Construction and fundraising team member Teri Brahams, from left.

The Pellissippi State Foundation raised $5.5 million for the workforce development center. In addition to the Wests, the center also received significant financial contributions from donors such as the Economic Development Board of Blount County Government, the City of Maryville and the City of Alcoa; Arconic Foundation; Blackberry Farm Foundation; Blount Memorial HospitalCare Institute GroupClayton Family Foundation; Clayton Homes Inc.; DENSO North America Foundation; and William Ed Harmon.  

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

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Pellissippi State sponsors Tool and Die Maker apprenticeship program with Newell Brands

Newell Brands apprentices
Newell Brands employees Kyle Sanchez, left, and Seth Hartley will receive their Journeyman Tool and Die Maker certifications upon successful completion of their apprenticeships, which are sponsored by Pellissippi State.

Pellissippi State Community College is making it easier for area businesses to start apprenticeship programs for new and current employees. 

Newell Brandslocated in Maryville, kicked off a new apprenticeship program this summer, with Pellissippi State as the sponsor. While Pellissippi State has been supporting apprenticeships with area businesses for years, this is the first time the college is sponsoring a program.   

“Newell Brands has been a longstanding partner for whom we provide training,” said Todd Evans, director of workforce solutions at Pellissippi State. “This apprenticeship program allows us to continue supporting their long-term goals of having employees with the skills necessary to do their job well.” 

Newell Brands’ expansion of its tool room and molding department this year created a need for additional tool and die makers at the company. It became clear to Newell Brands’ leaders that training and promoting current employees within the department was the right move to make to fill those positions. 

This position is one that is becoming more and more difficult to find qualified journeyman workers to fill,” said Aaron Myers, tool room supervisor at Newell Brands. We decided to partner with Pellissippi State and their new Tool and Die Maker apprenticeship program. We all believe that one of the best ways to cultivate a positive culture is to promote from within.” 

An apprenticeship program is a multi-year investment, with the amount of time invested dependent upon occupation, model and whether apprentices receive credit for the education and experience they already have. Apprentices must complete 144 hours of instructional training and 2,000 hours of on-the-job training each year of their apprenticeship, which is the same as apprentices working full time for their employer, year-round. 

Newell Brands had two employees start the apprenticeship program this summer, Seth Hartley and Kyle Sanchez. They will receive their Journeyman Tool and Die Maker certifications upon successful completion of their apprenticeships. 

Pellissippi State’s role and involvement as the apprenticeship sponsor can vary program to program, but includes working with the employer to provide administrative support and documentation with the U.S. Department of Labor, organizing the educational component and curriculum of the apprenticeship, and providing training for mentors. 

I think there is a growing recognition that training a modern workforce requires flexibility, and apprenticeship models allow for that,” Evans noted. “It’s the part we are most excited about.” 

Training can include a combination of online and in-person classes, allowing the apprentices the flexibility to learn on their own time. Most of the educational training for Newell Brands’ apprentices will be delivered online. Portions of the training also can apply toward an associate degree if the apprentice is interested in pursuing one. 

Pellissippi State has developed a streamlined class structure ensuring classes are to the point and have value in the information they provide,” Myers said. “Under the new program, we have the ability to tailor the curriculum by removing or adding any classes that we feel would benefit students during their apprenticeship program. 

For more information about starting an apprenticeship program, contact Todd Evansdirector of workforce solutions, at jtevans@pstcc.edu or call 865.539.7167. 

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Pellissippi State generates $258 million annual economic impact

Pellissippi State sign at entrance to Hardin Valley Campus
As the largest community college in Tennessee, Pellissippi State has pumped $1.3 billion into the local economy over the past five years.

Pellissippi State Community College has pumped an average of $258 million per year into the local economy over the past five years.

That’s about $1.3 billion in economic impact – the value of business volume, jobs and individual income created in Knox and Blount counties – that is directly tied to Pellissippi State, the largest community college in Tennessee with 10,694 students.

“Our mission is to provide a transformative environment for not only our students, but for the community,” said Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. “This annual economic impact study shows that the good work we’re doing here goes beyond our five campuses as our faculty, staff, students and alumni contribute to our local economy.”

A majority of Pellissippi State’s annual economic impact — $1 billion over five years or $203 million per year — can be attributed to the infusion of new non-local revenues such as state appropriations, grants, contracts and federal student financial aid, according to educational consultant Fred H. Martin, who conducted the study for Pellissippi State.

“Every single dollar of local revenue that comes into Pellissippi State generates an estimated annual return on investment of at least $5.32, comprised of $2.91 in local business volume, plus at least $2.41 in individual income,” he said.

There are significant individual economic benefits for students who complete associate degrees as well.

A 2018 report by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) found that the average associate degree graduate in the U.S. earns roughly $6,600 per year more than someone with a high school diploma. That amounts to about $264,000 in increased lifetime earnings potential for associate degree graduates compared with high school graduates.

Meanwhile, a University of Tennessee study found that those earning associate degrees were much more likely to stay and work in Tennessee than other degree-earners. In fact, after one year, 73.3% of associate degree earners were working in Tennessee, compared with 62.4% of bachelor’s degree earners and 40% of doctoral degree earners.

“Assuming the majority of Pellissippi State’s graduates remain in the area, the economic impact of each succeeding graduating class over their earnings lifetime has been and will continue to be an enormous contributor to local economic activity,” Martin said.

Over the five-year period, Pellissippi State’s expenditures created and sustained an estimated 43,496 jobs. The college itself employed 2,886 full-time-equivalent employees from 2014-2019.

“The results of this economic and social impact study clearly demonstrate that Pellissippi State continues to be a major contributor to the economic bases of Knox and Blount counties,” Wise said. “In December 2019, we graduated our largest fall semester class yet, with 580 students completing their degrees. As Pellissippi State continues to grow, our economic and social impact on the Knoxville metropolitan area will increase similarly.”

The complete 32nd annual analysis of Pellissippi State’s economic impact in Knox and Blount counties can be accessed at www.pstcc.edu/ieap/_files/pdf/2014-19-economic-impact.pdf.

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Pellissippi State expands Culinary Arts program into Blount County with new Culinary Institute

Two Culinary Arts students prepping in the kitchen
Pellissippi State Culinary Arts students prep food for an event on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus in November 2019.

A $250,000 gift from the Blackberry Farm Foundation is paving the way to expand Pellissippi State Community College’s Culinary Arts program into Blount County.

The new Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center on the college’s Blount County Campus will include a 4,700-square-foot Culinary Institute, including a teaching and demonstration kitchen and a baking center.

The Culinary Institute will support not only Pellissippi State’s students seeking an Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts, but also will be located adjacent to the Workforce Development Center’s Corporate Training Center and Lobby so that Culinary Arts students can support the community at events and pre-event functions held on the Blount County Campus.

“Blackberry Farm Foundation is excited to continue to invest in our already successful relationship with Pellissippi State,” said Matt Alexander, Blackberry Farm president, noting Blackberry Farm provides internships for Pellissippi State’s Culinary Arts students. “The restaurant and hospitality industries provide so much opportunity for advancement, as well as lifelong careers. We believe it is important for us to expand our impact on the industry and help create pathways to careers in culinary arts.”

“This expansion of Pellissippi State’s Culinary Arts program into Blount County will not only benefit local college students who want to prepare for a career in Culinary Arts, but also will provide dual enrollment opportunities with local high schools that offer Culinary Arts classes,” added Dean Michael Wolfe.

Currently, Pellissippi State’s Culinary Arts program is based on the college’s Division Street Campus in Knoxville, with students using the kitchen facilities at the nearby University of Tennessee. The Culinary Institute in the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center marks Pellissippi State’s first on-campus facilities dedicated to Culinary Arts and will allow the program to offer additional concentrations such as baking.

Pellissippi State also is looking at offering a one-year certificate program to prepare students for casual dining careers, in keeping with Gov. Bill Lee’s workforce education priorities.

“With the support of local employers, Pellissippi State will develop pathways to culinary degrees that include significant amounts of work-based learning,” Wolfe said.

An artist rendering of the outside of the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center
This artist rendering, courtesy of BarberMcMurry Architects, shows the new building planned for Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus.

Construction of the Culinary Institute at the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center is expected to cost $1.9 million, with an additional $525,000 set aside for outfitting the institute with the necessary equipment. Pellissippi State plans to employ new full-time faculty members and a kitchen technician to staff the Culinary Institute.

The Culinary Arts program at Pellissippi State is offered as a cohort, in that students begin and progress through a degree program as a united group. The Culinary Institute on the Blount County Campus will have the capacity to enroll 20 students in the daytime cohort and 20 students in the evening cohort, with full enrollment capped at 80 full-time students progressing through the program concurrently over the two years it takes to complete the Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts.

Pellissippi State’s Culinary Arts program is accredited by the American Culinary Federation. Graduates certify through the National Restaurant Association in food production and sanitation, and graduates of ACF-accredited programs such as Pellissippi State are certified as ACF culinarians upon graduation.

To learn more about Pellissippi State’s Culinary Arts program, contact Chef Joseph Blauvelt, program coordinator, at jsblauvelt@pstcc.edu or 865.971.5246, or contact Pellissippi State’s Admissions office at admissions@pstcc.edu or 865.694.6400.

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Pellissippi State celebrates 45 years of serving the community with 45 Days of Giving

1974 faculty and staff of Pellissippi State in front of Division Street building
Pellissippi State Community College opened for classes at what is now the college’s Division Street Campus on Sept. 23, 1974. The college was named State Technical Institute at Knoxville,and it offered three associate degree programs, all in Engineering Technology.

It’s been 45 years since Pellissippi State Community College opened as State Technical Institute at Knoxville, with 45,000 square feet of floor space, to an inaugural headcount of 45 students.

Now the largest community college in Tennessee, with five campuses and 10,694 students, Pellissippi State is celebrating its 45th anniversary with 45 Days of Giving, a push to finish out Pellissippi State’s campaign to build two new buildings, expand its Media Technologies programs and support students financially.

“There will never be forests in the future if we don’t plant the seeds today,” said Ronni Chandler, a Pellissippi State alumna who serves on the college Foundation’s Board of Trustees. “This campaign is about doing our part to ensure that current and future students have the facilities and resources they need to be prepared to succeed and to lead.”

Pellissippi State launched the campaign Feb. 1, outlining a lofty goal of raising $10 million. So far the Foundation has reached 99% of that goal, and construction of the Bill Haslam Center for Math and Science on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus is underway.

The college expects to break ground on the Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center on the Blount County Campus in spring 2020.

“Every part of this campaign — from the new buildings to the Student Opportunity Fund — will benefit our students,” said Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr.

For example, the new 82,000-square-foot Bill Haslam Center for Math and Science will help Pellissippi State meet demands for classrooms and lab spaces that have increased due to the Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect scholarships while the new 53,000-square-foot Ruth and Steve West Workforce Development Center 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.

Pellissippi State’s Student Opportunity Fund also will benefit from the campaign. Created in 2018 to help break down the barriers that keep students from staying in school, the Student Opportunity Fund has provided a total of $55,115 in assistance to 153 students since its inception last year.

“Many people believe the cost of an education at Pellissippi State is now paid for by the state,” explained Campaign Chair Tom Ballard, who established the Student Opportunity Fund with his wife Diane and support from Marty Adler-Jasny and Norm and Ann Naylor. “That is true for things like tuition, but it doesn’t pay for incidentals or unexpected expenses for a student whose car breaks down or computer dies. Those are expenses that many of Pellissippi State’s students cannot absorb.”

To complete the campaign before the end of the calendar year, Pellissippi State is celebrating 45 Days of Giving. 45 Days of Giving will continue until Dec. 31 and will include Giving Tuesday on Dec. 3.

During these 45 days, Pellissippi State faculty, staff, students, alumni and the community are encouraged to donate to Pellissippi State at https://giving.pstcc.edu.

Five alumni champions – one for each decade the college has existed – are challenging their fellow alumni to see which decade’s alumni can raise the most for the campaign. Champions include Curt Maxey, Class of 1979; Randy Merritt, Class of 1989; Ronni Chandler, Class of 1994; J. Travis Howerton, Class of 2002; and Candace Viox, Class of 2013.

“After being out of the workforce for 13 years and college for 20 years, I enrolled in the culinary program at Pellissippi State,” said Viox, owner of Water into Wine Bistro and Lounge. “My experience and the many supporters I gained there led to the conception, and ultimately the success, of my restaurant in Farragut.”

Even those donors who didn’t graduate from Pellissippi State are welcome to indicate which decade they want their gift to join. The winning decade will be the theme of the campaign celebration.

To keep up with 45 Days of Giving and the friendly competition between the decades, be sure to follow Pellissippi State, Pellissippi State Foundation and Pellissippi State Alumni and Friends on Facebook. Facebook profile frames to support the campaign are available here.

For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865.694.6400.

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GIVE grants to help Pellissippi State expand information technology, construction and advanced manufacturing training

Instructor standing in Strawberry Plains Cyber Defense lab
Instructor Charles Nelson, standing, tells visitors about Pellissippi State’s new Cyber Defense lab on the college’s Strawberry Plains Campus on Sept. 10, 2019.

Pellissippi State Community College has been awarded two Governor’s Investment in Vocational Education (GIVE) grants, Gov. Bill Lee announced Nov. 7.

The funding, $999,874 for Knox County initiatives and $998,416 for Blount County initiatives, will be used to address workforce needs: information technology careers in Knox County and construction and advanced manufacturing careers in Blount County.

“We are proud to work with the General Assembly to pass the GIVE initiative and expand career and technical education for Tennessee students,” Lee said in a press release last week. “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.”

Both the GIVE Knox County Career Collaborative and the GIVE Blount County Career Collaborative established by the grants will address:

  • barriers to education/training access, including a lack of understanding and awareness of viable career choices and training options for high-demand fields;
  • insufficient early postsecondary education and training opportunities;
  • insufficient student support services; and
  • misalignment between education and workforce needs.

“With the number of new jobs coming into Blount County specifically, we have to do everything we can as a college to help train the next generation workforce,” said Teri Brahams, executive director of Economic and Workforce Development at Pellissippi State and project manager for the GIVE Blount County Career Collaborative. “Engaging our students from middle school through high school and college is crucial, and helping them understand pathways to college and careers is one way to do that.”

In Knox County, the Career Collaborative will focus on increasing the number of students who enroll in and complete Information Technology-related degrees and certifications in Pellissippi State’s Computer Information Technology programs, which include concentrations in Cybersecurity, Networking, Programming and Systems Administration and Management.

The grant also will be used to boost enrollment in and completion of the Computer Information Technology Technical Support Specialist, IT Network Support Specialist, IT Network Security Specialist, IT Systems Support Specialist, and IT Systems Coordinator options at Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Knoxville (TCAT).

“Training a workforce that is not only skilled in computer technology but, perhaps more importantly, is able to adapt those skills as new technology emerges is vital to all of East Tennessee,” said Business and Computer Technology Dean Michael Wolfe of Pellissippi State, who is serving as project director for the GIVE Knox County Career Collaborative. “This grant will provide the support to help students in Knox County do just that. Working together, the grant partners will immerse students from middle school through college in work-based learning environments, develop innovative pathways that result in industry-recognized credentials and increase the number of potential employees that possess a college degree.”

In Blount County, the Career Collaborative will focus on increasing the number of students who enroll in and complete advanced manufacturing and construction-related degree and certifications in Pellissippi State’s Engineering Technology program, which includes concentrations in Manufacturing, Industrial Maintenance and Civil Engineering, as well as in Pellissippi State’s Electrical Engineering Technology program.

The grant also will be used to boost enrollment in and completion of the Industrial Maintenance/Mechatronics Technology, Pipefitting and Plumbing Technology, Industrial Electricity and HVAC Technician options at TCAT.

Pellissippi State chose to address information technology, construction and advanced manufacturing careers because these local industries are struggling to meet demand.

Tennessee employed 174,346 information technology workers in 2018, a gain of more than 3,797 jobs from the year before, according to a study by the Computer Technology Industry Association. Between 900 and 1,000 openings are projected in information technology in the Knoxville region between 2020 and 2026, according to data from Jobs4TN and the Tennessee School Boards Association District Data Dashboard.

“It is evident that the projected information technology workforce needs in the region are significant, and the enrollment and graduation rates for the related education and training programs are not sufficient to meet the projected needs,” Wolfe said, noting there have been only 26 graduates in the past three years from the four associate degree program concentrations at Pellissippi State that prepare students for positions as customer support specialists, programmers, data/computer systems analysts, cybersecurity analysts and systems engineers.

Meanwhile, the average age of Tennessee construction and manufacturing workers is 56, but only one worker is replaced for every four that retire, according to the Associated General Contractors of America. A Jobs4TN Area Profile projects that manufacturing and construction industries will post 2,650 openings in East Tennessee alone between 2016 and 2026.

“Unfortunately, interest in the pursuit of construction and manufacturing-related occupations has been on a steady decline,” Brahams explained. “Misperceptions about wages, career pathways and the elimination of many vocational programs with the push for students to obtain four-year degrees have compounded the problem. Young people are considering these occupations less frequently, and parents and counselors have become equally reluctant to discuss these career paths. As a result, supply and demand gaps widen.”

Among the major strategies Pellissippi State plans to employ to meet the goals of its GIVE Knox County and GIVE Blount County Career Collaboratives are

  • enhancing and expanding career pathway programs utilizing a stackable credentials approach;
  • developing and implementing a collaborative, meaningful and structured work-based learning continuum that begins in middle school and continues through completion of postsecondary credentials; and
  • expanding access to industry recognized certification preparation and testing.

“Local employers, all three Blount County school systems, the Blount Partnership and Pellissippi State have been working together to address the workforce needs of our community, and this grant will allow us to go to the next level with our efforts,” Brahams said.

In Knox County, Pellissippi State will continue to partner with the Knoxville Chamber, the East Tennessee Local Workforce Development Board, TCAT, Knox County Schools and multiple employers.

“We’ve worked together for years to identify and address regional workforce needs and skills gaps, but this grant brings new focus to expanding career pathways and implementing a structured continuum of work-based learning experiences in Knox County,” Wolfe said.

Click here for more information on the GIVE grants announced by Gov. Lee last week.

For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865.694.6400.

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