Sullivan County

Grant helps Northeast State upgrade labs

Northeast State grant

BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. - A local school is getting some new equipment thanks to a grant from Tennessee governor Bill Haslam.

Northeast State Community College is getting close to a million dollars, and people at the school say they are very grateful for the money.

We learned that money will be use to buy some much-needed equipment for students.

$843,000 is coming to Northeast State. It's part of $16.5 million Governor Haslam is using for his 'Drive To 55' program, an effort to get more Tennessee residents post-secondary credentials. "Even in today's tough economy, we have jobs going unfilled in Tennessee. Actually, a lot of them, because we're not training people with the right skill set," he explained.

The money at Northeast State will buy new equipment for their advanced technology programs like welding, machine tool and robotic manufacturing .

Sam Rowell is the Dean of Advanced Technology. "It will keep us current with the latest technology. It will also allow us to keep up to date," he said.

Students use equipment in labs on campus, but a lot of what they have is very old. One machine has been around since the creation of the school, which was nearly 50 years ago.

Leaders at the school say having new equipment can help students take their skills to new jobs, which we're told more than 90 percent of advanced technology students get after graduating.

Jeff McCord is the Vice President of Economic Workforce Development. ["We] give them both the capability and the confidence so when they walk into an industry, a manufacturer, they see what they saw in the classroom and they are able to perform like they did in the classroom," he said.

Without the grant money, we're told there were not any plans to replace any equipment simply because there wasn't money to do so. The new equipment should arrive pretty quickly and be in use by the end of the year.

Some more good news for students -- the school plans to break ground on a brand-new advanced technologies building sometime in 2014.

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