Menu
Search
Groundbreak

By Cliff Black

TCAT
AED’s local Memphis group has been hard at work trying to get the facilities needed to start an AED Foundation-accredited heavy equipment and diesel technology program in Memphis. Since July of 2015, the group has worked with a host of stakeholders and future benefactors to make this project come to fruition.

Their efforts paid off in May when the Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) and Haas Education and Training Facility held their groundbreaking ceremony. Mr. Roland Rayner, President of TCAT Memphis, stated in recognition of the cooperation it has taken to get the project to this point:

tcat2
“In my public life, rarely have I been so fortunate as to openly embrace the satisfaction that comes from partnerships like this. And the persistence that pays dividends for the public good. Dreams take flight on days such as this. A spade in the turning of soil is symbolic of the work that it has taken, behind the scenes, beneath the surface, above the fray, to make this dream a reality. And to create still more dreams, for the beneficiaries of this work who soon will see the fruits of labors of those whom they will likely never know.”
 
On this day, the labors of those who are making the dream a reality became known. The attendees of the groundbreaking event give a good idea of whose painstaking efforts were critical to the success of the project up to this point. Some of these distinguished guests included representatives from Shelby County Legislative and Congressional Delegation, the state building commission, the Bartlett police and public works departments, the Tennessee office of the governor, the county board of commissioners, the Bartlett board of aldermen, the Tennessee board of regents, the Bartlett Chamber of Commerce, TCAT President Roland Rayner, Bartlett’s mayor, Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, ten AED members, and architect Chris Norton with Braganza Design Group and his staff.
 
AED and The AED Foundation have been apart of this process all along, according to Tony Tice, training manager for Thompson Machinery, a local CAT dealership in Tennessee and northern Mississippi. Tice spoke to CED about the process of getting the program developed: “Groups of industry leaders for years have been trying to get a pipeline filled with trained technicians. To do that we had to look within. First, we needed a facility, so we partnered with TCAT Memphis.” TCAT serves as one of the premier suppliers of workforce development throughout the state of Tennessee.

The ‘pipeline’ issue Tice mentioned is a prevalent part of Memphis’ current hiring climate, and one that most CED readers can attest to. Tice said, “Nationally, if you read anyone’s articles you know that ‘technician shortage’ is a buzzword within the industry. We find the same thing within our local industries and are always on the lookout for skilled technicians. More than that, we are looking for good people we can train to become technicians. Having a facility like the one being build in Bartlett, Tennessee that will produce those techs is exactly what is needed. It will make West Tennessee a better place.”

Filling the vocational needs of Memphis and Tennessee at large, the TCAT Memphis and Haas Education and Training Facility will offer programs in machine tool technology, medical devices, HVAC, mechatronics, automotive technology, heavy equipment technology and welding. President Rayner said that these were “all critical workforce needs in the area, which we will be addressing as soon as this facility is up and running. Our business partners not only put up dollars but equipment that will be going into this building.” 

A notable characteristic of the project to date has been the governments’ involvement in the facilities. That is “governments” in the plural, as it has taken efforts from every level of government. Everyone involved in the project has resoundingly agreed that such governmental involvement has been and is critical to turning the center into a reality. Most stakeholders also agree that governmental action is significantly less expeditious than we are used to in the private sector. President Rayner admitted to the charge: “The mayor has already told me that he realized the city government was slow, but that the state was slower. I had to say, ‘Amen to that!’, because we are slow.

” Quick to describe the perceived holdups, Raynor offered, “But we do the best we can to make sure that we are building the best product for the citizens of Tennessee. Today is a very special day for Shelby County and the city of Bartlett … the vision for this project was actually born in 2013 after the legislatures, board of regents, and state and local educational leaders saw the need to develop a master plan that would help guide the allocation of funding, capital funding, aimed at capacity building at many TCAT locations across Tennessee. Fast-forward six years, the stakeholders behind me were willing to share this vision and assisted with the securing of funding to make this possible.”

One major contributor to the success of the new program and facility is Terry Lotz, executive director of AED’s Memphis group. Although he is very appreciative of the governmental action that has gone into the project to this point, Lotz likened the government’s pace to “trying to turn an aircraft carrier or battleship.”
 
AED and The AED Foundation have been apart of this process all along, according to Tony Tice, training manager for Thompson Machinery, a local CAT dealership in Tennessee and northern Mississippi. Tice spoke to CED about the process of getting the program developed: “Groups of industry leaders for years have been trying to get a pipeline filled with trained technicians. To do that we had to look within. First, we needed a facility, so we partnered with TCAT Memphis.” TCAT serves as one of the premier suppliers of workforce development throughout the state of Tennessee.

The ‘pipeline’ issue Tice mentioned is a prevalent part of Memphis’ current hiring climate, and one that most CED readers can attest to. Tice said, “Nationally, if you read anyone’s articles you know that ‘technician shortage’ is a buzzword within the industry. We find the same thing within our local industries and are always on the lookout for skilled technicians. More than that, we are looking for good people we can train to become technicians. Having a facility like the one being build in Bartlett, Tennessee that will produce those techs is exactly what is needed. It will make West Tennessee a better place.”

Filling the vocational needs of Memphis and Tennessee at large, the TCAT Memphis and Haas Education and Training Facility will offer programs in machine tool technology, medical devices, HVAC, mechatronics, automotive technology, heavy equipment technology and welding. President Rayner said that these were “all critical workforce needs in the area, which we will be addressing as soon as this facility is up and running. Our business partners not only put up dollars but equipment that will be going into this building.” 

A notable characteristic of the project to date has been the governments’ involvement in the facilities. That is “governments” in the plural, as it has taken efforts from every level of government. Everyone involved in the project has resoundingly agreed that such governmental involvement has been and is critical to turning the center into a reality. Most stakeholders also agree that governmental action is significantly less expeditious than we are used to in the private sector. President Rayner admitted to the charge: “The mayor has already told me that he realized the city government was slow, but that the state was slower. I had to say, ‘Amen to that!’, because we are slow.”

Quick to describe the perceived holdups, Raynor offered, “But we do the best we can to make sure that we are building the best product for the citizens of Tennessee. Today is a very special day for Shelby County and the city of Bartlett … the vision for this project was actually born in 2013 after the legislatures, board of regents, and state and local educational leaders saw the need to develop a master plan that would help guide the allocation of funding, capital funding, aimed at capacity building at many TCAT locations across Tennessee. Fast-forward six years, the stakeholders behind me were willing to share this vision and assisted with the securing of funding to make this possible.”

One major contributor to the success of the new program and facility is Terry Lotz, executive director of AED’s Memphis group. Although he is very appreciative of the governmental action that has gone into the project to this point, Lotz likened the government’s pace to “trying to turn an aircraft carrier or battleship.”
 

Related Articles