COVINGTON, TN (WMC) - Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam announced Wednesday his plan to expand higher education opportunities and increase the number of Tennesseans with college degrees.
The Governor awarded Community Development Block Grants to two West Tennessee schools in order to expand current programs and develop new training programs.
The Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) institutions in Ripley and Covington are both considered communities with limited higher education options and were chosen by the governor to receive this aid.
TCAT-Ripley received funding of $380,154 to purchase equipment necessary to expand their industrial electricity program. TCAT-Covington was awarded $3.26 million to construct a state-of-the-art healthcare training facility to provide programs for students in the Tipton County, which lacks skilled healthcare workers.
Covington Mayor Justin Hanson said that he is extremely grateful that alongside this money from the state, the Tipton County government was able to match over $700,000 in the same effort.
"It's a win win for Covington and Tipton County because it will further expand educational opportunities for students right here in our backyard," Hanson said.
Last month, the governor helped break ground at a new TCAT in Winchester with a $4.9 million grant to increase higher education access in Franklin County.
"We need to make sure adequate programs and training are available to citizens in all parts of the state, not just the urban areas," Haslam said. "The best jobs plan is an education plan, and these funds will help increase education and job opportunities for Tennesseans."
Haslam and other lawmakers support the "Drive to 55" initiative, pushing to increase the number of Tennessee residents with a degree or certificate to 55 percent by 2025.
Under the recently enacted Tennessee Reconnect Act, adults without a degree can attend any TCAT or community college for free, funded through the lottery for education.