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November 10, 2021
Roane State's mechatronics facility and the Tennessee College of Applied Technology Knoxville at Anderson County are moving, thanks to the generosity of a prominent manufacturer.
County and Clinton officials gathered in late October at the new Anderson County Higher Education Center to thank SL Tennessee. That auto parts maker in the Clinton/I-75 Industrial Park donated seven acres in the park for the new center.
Both Roane State and TCAT classes in the new 48,000-square-foot facility, located at 220 Frank L. Diggs Drive, are slated to begin in earnest this January. More than 200 students are expected to take classes there.
Roane State's mechatronics campus will be relocated from a former National Guard Armory off of Charles Seivers Boulevard that's owned by Clinton and is now being eyed for use in the future by the Clinton Boys and Girls Club. Official opening and closing dates for each facility have not yet been finalized.
Along with mechatronics, the community college intends to add dedicated labs for the study of robotics and injection molding at the new campus.
The TCAT Knoxville facility in Anderson County, which has been housed for six years in a former grocery store on Andersonville Highway, will have programs in welding, diesel powered equipment technology, auto tech, industrial maintenance, building trades and a host of customized workforce development training to meet the skilled labor needs of employers in Anderson County.
"You have no idea what this means for our students," said Kelli Chaney, president of TCAT Knoxville. "They are going to flourish."
Gordon Williams, who oversees Roane State's rapidly expanding mechatronics program, said the Tennessee Board of Regents approved the $11 million center for the two higher education institutions. "It was cost-efficient to put them together," he said.
The real star of the recent ceremony was SL Tennessee, a major manufacturer with its corporate headquarters in South Korea that located in the Clinton/I-75 Industrial Park in 2003.
SL Tennessee now has 1,000 employees in three buildings with 840,000 square feet under roof.
Local officials said the company has for years been an exemplary corporate citizen. It paid for a new fire engine for the city of Clinton, created an injection molding program now used by 10 regional employers, and donated more than $425,000 in material and equipment to support Roane State's injection molding and mechatronics programs.
Ten framed proclamations from cities and counties, local economic development groups, TBR, Roane State, and TCAT, all paying tribute to SL Tennessee, were prominently displayed in the new center.
"You are an incredible addition and asset," Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank said of SL Tennessee. "It's a great partnership that we have," Clinton Mayor Scott Burton added.
"Roane State is so grateful for the opportunity to serve our industry partners in Anderson County with in-demand courses, including mechatronics and injection molding," Roane State President Dr. Chris Whaley said in a statement. "We are honored to share the new Anderson County Higher Education Center with TCAT Knoxville, which has been made possible by generous donations from SL Tennessee. The new facility will allow us to expand and serve even more students and supply more job-ready graduates into the workforce."
Before the ceremony, SL Tennessee Manager Scott Laska and several high-level executives from the company's corporate headquarters toured the current mechatronics facility and then explored the new center with local officials.
Details about the Anderson County Higher Education Center are available online at roanestate.edu/anderson. Additional information will be available soon.
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