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Lee tours TCAT Jackson

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has been a regular visitor to Madison County in recent weeks, and he was back in town on Tuesday.

This time, he stopped by Tennessee College of Applied Technologies (TCAT) Jackson for about 90 minutes to get a look at the work going on there.

“The main reason I’m here is to see how we’re doing, and it appears we’re doing well so far,” Lee said after the tour. “And that’s exciting.”

The stop in Jackson was one of multiple stops at TCAT campuses Lee had on his schedule Tuesday along with stops in Newbern and Memphis.

In Jackson, Lee toured the facility, getting a look at different teaching programs, talking with the instructors and students and seeing what’s being accomplished there.

“Two years ago, I sat down with the COO at Ford Motor Company when we were discussing them bringing nearly 6,000 jobs to this region – which will lead to 30,000 more jobs in suppliers and other employers – and she asked me if Tennessee could supply the workers,” Lee told one class. “And I told her about our TCAT program with campuses all over the state just like this one, and I said we could.

“And coming here today, spending time with you and seeing what you’re accomplishing inside this facility, I see that I was right.”

Lee got a look at the welding instructing area, HVAC area, electrical wiring and digital programming among other programs.

“I’ve been to a lot of these facilities multiple times, and this was something I focused on before I ever walked into this office,” Lee said. “I was aware of how desperately our education system needed to accommodate people who have gifts but didn’t have access to educational programs and opportunities to grow those skills.”

When talking with Bradley Newman, one of the welding instructors, Newman was filling Lee in on renovations and expansions to the program that can currently facilitate learning for 19 students. Once work is complete in about a month, it will be able to facilitate educational programs for 36 students.

“And we’ve got a waiting list already of people who want to take these classes,” Newman told Lee.

“Well that waiting list is about to get a lot longer,” Lee replied in reference to coming industries to rural West Tennessee.

Heath McMillan, the president for TCAT Jackson, guided the tour for Lee and those who accompanied him on the trip. Both State Representatives for Madison County – Johnny Shaw and Chris Todd – were on hand as well for the tour.

Brandon Shields, brandon@jacksonpost.news

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