Cleveland State Community College received some exciting news on Monday evening during Governor Bill Lee’s State of the State address when he unveiled his proposed 2019-2020 fiscal budget, and the McMinn County Higher Education Center was included in his budget. With a projected cost of $17.75M, this facility is intended as a unique collaboration between the Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) at Athens, Cleveland State Community College and UT Ag Extension.
Senator Mike Bell, R-Riceville, stated, “Housing a new Cleveland State Community College Athens campus, the UT Ag Extension office, an Industrial Training center, and McMinn Adult Basic Training, the McMinn Higher Education Center is a new concept for higher education facilities. The multipurpose center will be a huge asset for our area in training tomorrow’s workforce.”
“The planned McMinn Higher Education Center will be a very unique collaboration of institutions and programs that are meant to heighten our educational opportunity and workforce development to our region,” stated Dr. Bill Seymour, Cleveland State Community College President.
The new joint facility will be located in an industrial park in Athens across from Denso Manufacturing in a 51,500-square foot building. The McMinn Higher Education Center was No. 2 on the Tennessee Higher Education Commission’s list of recommended capital projects for the state’s upcoming 2019-2020 budget.
The new Center will provide a new and expanded home for Cleveland State’s Athens Center. Cleveland State is currently renting a facility in Athens. CSCC will also share space with the TCAT-Athens and the local Agriculture Extension office. Once developed, the new Center will save the taxpayers and the college $150k per year. Another key feature of the facility will be shared common space for all of the entities involved in this partnership and space for industries in the area to receive training for their existing workforce.
Some of the programs planning to be offered at the McMinn County Higher Education Center include machine tool technology, mechanical maintenance, electrical and instrumentation, general education (academics), administrative professional, agriculture technology, climate control, early childhood education, emergency medical technician and business.
Seymour continued, “For Cleveland State, this will provide a new facility that will expand our mission, particularly in the northern part of our service area. We plan to expand academic programs and house more full-time faculty which will enable more students to complete degrees at the Athens facility without traveling to Cleveland.”