TCAT Livingston – Jackson County

Jackson County, Tennessee

Jackson County is located on the Cumberland Plateau on the Kentucky border. Blessed with natural beauty and abundant natural resources, the county provides a high quality of life and outdoor recreation opportunities; however, the county is isolated from employment and higher education opportunities. In 2018, Jackson County was designated a distressed county with a 7.2% unemployment and 25% poverty rate. With an 86% high school graduation rate and a post-secondary attainment rate of less than 9% for a bachelor’s degrees or higher, the need for local access to workforce training in high-demand occupations was clear.

Jackson County has been served by the TCAT Livingston campus and dual enrollment courses at the local high school, but there were not any other opportunities for adults to receive training locally. The county’s large employers needed workers to fill technology-based openings in Jackson County and the Upper Cumberland Region.

Twin Lakes Telephone Cooperative is one of the leading employers in the region and a telephone and broadband provider. Company officials are involved in economic development and have led the conversation on workforce training needs and opportunities. Twin Lakes currently partners with the TCAT to provide IT training for their employees and was a willing partner to explore opportunities to locate training in high-demand fields in Jackson County. Training for lineman is only offered at one other location in East Tennessee or in Georgia and Kentucky. The ability for individuals to receive this training in Jackson County would be an
asset to many employers in the region.

Asset-Based Development Priorities

In 2017, Jackson County participated in TNECD-sponsored Asset-Based Planning. During this process, county officials and economic development leaders identified assets and priorities to move them out of the distressed county classification. Workforce development was identified as the highest priority during the strategic planning session facilitated by the UT Center for Industrial Services. The top goal identified was to develop post-secondary educational and training programs locally to improve educational attainment and strengthen skills of the workforce. The corresponding short-term goal was to pursue the opportunity to locate a TCAT satellite campus in Jackson County in collaboration with the school system and the Tennessee Board of Regents. Both goals aligned with needs of local employers for technically trained workers.

TCAT Livingston – Jackson County

TCAT Livingston already provided dual enrollment training in Health Sciences. The program had been successful in creating a pipeline of trained healthcare workers. Building on this success, county leaders developed a project to provide both high school students and adults the opportunity to pursue training in two more areas. Based on the job market and the needs of employers, Powerline Construction/Maintenance and Information Technology were top fields of growth and need in the Upper Cumberland region.

In 2017, school system and county leaders purchased an available golf course property and club house located just behind the high school that was suitable to house the TCAT. As a distressed community, additional local funding was not also available for the facility upgrades. Community leaders worked with TCAT Livingston administrators to determine the needed updates and worked with county leaders to apply for a TNECD Asset Enhancement Grant (AEG) to prepare the new facility. In the spring to 2018, the county received $50,000 for the project. As an additional benefit, most of the work could be completed by TCAT Livingston building trades students giving them real world experience.  

In May of 2018, TCAT Livingston and the Jackson County school system signed a Memorandum of Agreement that outlined the TCAT roles and responsibilities for operation and confirmed the offering of the two new programs. In August of 2018, the IT program opened with high school secondary students enrolling first as part of their high school schedules. In January of 2019, both high school and adult students will be able to enroll on a regular TCAT schedule in the IT program and adults in the Lineman Training program at this rural county’s first higher education center.

Economic and Community Impact

The economic impact of this project will be the increased availability of a trained workforce. Jackson County residents will be able to increase their potential earnings with the skills they obtain from locally available TCAT training programs. By empowering Jackson County residents with in-demand skills, this project is intended to lower the county's 7.2% unemployment rate, increase per-capita income levels, and lower the poverty rate. Success will be measured by the completion and placement of individuals who receive the training provided at the facility. First year enrollment and completion projections include    

Fall 2018 High School Dual Enrollment (Information Technology Program) 18
2019 Full-time Adult Enrollment (Information Technology Program) 10
2019 High School Dual Enrollment Program  (Information Technology) 18
2019 Full-time Adult Program Enrollment (Information Technology and Powerline Construction/Maintenance) 30
2019 Certificates/Diplomas to be Awarded  20
2019 Cooperative/Work-Based Learning Placements    8
Participating Employers (Information Technology Program)                                                     4

Project Funding

Jackson County School System Funding (building purchase)  $200,000
TCAT Livingston Funding (instructional materials, class room and lab equipment, faculty salaries)  $80,000
TCAT Livingston In-kind Contributions (building and construction upgrades) $5,000
Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development AEG Grant (building upgrades and HVAC equipment purchase) $50,000
TOTAL PROJECT FUNDING (state and federal grants, local contributions)  $335,000

Project Leaders and Partners

Tennessee College of Applied Technology at Livingston – President – Project Contact
Jackson County Government
Jackson County School System
Twin Lakes Telephone Cooperative
Tennessee Board of Regents 
Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development

For more project information visit TCAT Livingston.


TNECD Asset-Based Planning Program

The Asset-Based Planning program was developed through the Rural Task Force to assist distressed counties with strategic planning and development of short-term goals that would address the causes of distress: unemployment rate, per capita income, and poverty rate. TNECD and the University of Tennessee Institute for Public Service worked with the communities to develop action-oriented goals based on the communities’ assets. Following that process, TNECD wanted to ensure that the communities had the resources to accomplish their goals and created the Asset Enhancement Grant provided through the Governor’s Rural Task Force and Tennessee Rural Economic Opportunity Act.

For more information visit TNECD Community and Rural Development.