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Commission talks local workforce development

By ZOË WATKINS - zwatkins@t-g.com
Posted 1/14/23

During the quarterly reports at Tuesday’s Board of Commissioners meeting, Bedford County Schools superintendent Tammy Garrett and Shelbyville-Bedford Partnership CEO Shane Hooper gave reports …

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Commission talks local workforce development


During the quarterly reports at Tuesday’s Board of Commissioners meeting, Bedford County Schools superintendent Tammy Garrett and Shelbyville-Bedford Partnership CEO Shane Hooper gave reports regarding schools and workforce development.  

Garrett talked about a grant opportunity from the State of Tennessee that would give the Bedford County School System $5 million to expand the CTE programs across the middle and high schools.  

“That will be over a three-year time period. So, what we plan to do is participate in spending that on infrastructure,” said Garrett.  

They plan to offer tiny house construction at Community High School, veterinary sciences and beef cattle marketing at Cascade High School, and entrepreneurial/business opportunities (such as a dog grooming business) at Shelbyville Central High.  

“We will also have an expansion of work-based learning programs, which students who are non-traditional will be able to go into the work force and get credit and earn wages,” said Garrett.  

Non-traditional students are defined as students who don’t plan to attend college but go straight into the workforce after high school. Some 53% of Bedford’s students don’t go to secondary education.  

The Times-Gazette will have more coverage on Bedford’s current and expanding CTE programs in the upcoming weeks.  

The Shelbyville-Bedford Partnership has also been working closely with the school system to connect local industries, such as Nationwide, Titan Transfer, Vanderbilt, Duck River Electric.  

Partnership CEO Shane Hooper provided a few figures for how recent workforce development has affected students.  

  The Partnership has hosted a couple career fairs and resume workshops over the last year. Hooper said more than 2,000 Bedford students have been introduced to career opportunities in Bedford County, while some 500 students are better prepared for job interviews.  

More than 500 teachers were able to connect their classrooms with local careers as more than 120 industry partners participated in school events. Hooper added that they are also working with 10 active partners for secondary and post-secondary education opportunities.  

“All of those workforce development numbers, those numbers are our children. They're not somebody else’s.”  

But the Partnership also hopes to grow Bedford outside of the classroom. Hooper said, “We are working on 18 projects representing more than $500 million in capital investment and almost 1,400 jobs. We are active in three hotel projects and three restaurants.”  

He explained they also have an agricultural initiative to make sure that community is part of the growth, especially since Bedford County is number one in agriculture across several disciplines.  

“Working with our businesses here, like the ag initiative, is imperative that we work with all of this county as we move forward with our economic progress. It also includes our business retention and expansion program,” said Hooper.  

Tablets deferred  

The Bedford County Board of Commissioners was supposed to vote on whether to allow inmates at the jail to have smart tablets, but the item was deferred for another month.  

Mayor Chad Graham said they plan to have the vendors, from Securus Technologies, come and answer any questions the commissioners may have. 

The tablets program will be of no cost to the county. Inmates will have limited access to the tablets while the majority of programs on the devices are free educational programs. Inmates can then purchase books, music, or movies similar to how a jail commissary works.