Education leaders hopeful new Ford campus will provide ‘pipeline to prosperity’ for students

Published: Sep. 29, 2021 at 5:10 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Ford’s commitment to invest $5.6 billion dollars to build a 3,600-acre campus at the Memphis Regional Mega Site in Haywood County is expected to create nearly 6,000 jobs.

Many of those jobs will go to students working to earn a technical degree.

Mid-South education leaders are excited about the possibilities this will bring.

Blue Oval City will not only be one of the largest battery and vehicle manufacturing campuses in the country, but it will also be home to a new Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT).

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee says the new TCAT will provide customized training to meet the specific demands of Blue Oval City.

“This partnership between the state and Ford will create another avenue for Tennessee workers to skill up and settle down with a great American company,” said Lee. “We are continuing to prepare a pipeline of skilled workers who are equipped for the future of advanced automotive manufacturing.”

Students who earn degrees and certificates from other vocational and trade school programs will also benefit.

“We’re hoping that if this is just the start of great things to come, that we will have more companies investing in this area in this region,” said Dr. Tracy D. Hall, president of Southwest Tennessee Community College.

Hall says many students at her school and those going through specialized training, like students in the automotive program at TCAT Memphis, will no doubt benefit from Ford’s investment and other investments that could follow.

“When you think about our students and the barriers that they face, this is just an awesome opportunity to have a well-paying job that provides a living wage for their families,” said Hall. “I’m just excited that career technical education is being discussed and just really excited about the opportunity for this region and for Memphis to provide a pipeline from poverty to prosperity to the plant.”

Lee says the state has made big investments in career and technical education programs in recent years and will continue to do so.

“In last year’s budget, we put $100 million dollars toward colleges of applied technology. In the next budget we’re proposing even more,” said Lee.

While many colleges saw their enrollment decrease TCATs saw their enrollment increase this fall.

Lee says that’s largely due to the state’s $79 million investment eliminating an 11,400 person TCAT waiting list.

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