FOR THE first time in recent history, according to those with historical knowledge, industries in Bedford County assembled with educators and locally elected officials to discuss workforce development. On Thursday, October 21, 2021, the first meeting of what is scheduled to become an annual meeting occurred at Central High School in Shelbyville, TN.
The Bedford County Workforce Development Summit kicked off at 8:15 in the school’s spacious auditorium with a welcome by Shane Hooper, President and CEO of the Shelbyville- Bedford Partnership. The welcome greeted more than 350 Bedford County school system teachers, administrators, other local educational professionals, elected officials, and industry leaders.
The event addressed each step in the workforce development process. The workforce development process includes three main components. The first is the teachers in the classroom, the second is the financial support from local elected officials, and the third is the workforce’s end-user, the actual employers.
The welcome was followed by the introduction of guest speakers and panelists. County Commissioner and catalyst for the event, Greg Vick, introduced elected officials and education representatives. State legislative representatives Pat Marsh and Mark White were introduced and served as panelists. Commissioner Vick then introduced the panel of educators; Dr. Laura Monks from the Shelbyville Tennessee College of Applied Technology, Dr. Michael Torrence from Motlow State Community College, Dr. Mark Byrnes from Middle Tennessee State University, Dr. Brandon Hudson from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, and Dr. Tammy Garrett from Bedford County Schools. The panel facilitator, Mike Krause, former Executive Director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, and now a senior advisor in Bradley’s Governmental Affairs and Economic Development Practice Group, led the panel discussion titled “Cultivating the Workforce of the Future.”
Mike Krause, also led the legislative panel discussion. Representatives Pat Marsh and Mark White fielded questions from Krause on the legislature’s role in education and workforce development. Mark White serves as Chair for the Education Administration Committee and member of Higher Education Subcommittee, K-12 Subcommittee, and the Education Instruction committee. Pat Marsh serves as Speaker Pro Tempore of the 112th General Assembly and a key supporter of the future state-of-the-art TCAT in Shelbyville, TN. Support from elected officials provides educators with the tools necessary to train the workforce of tomorrow.
The final panel, composed of Bedford County industrial leaders, spoke on the topic, “In-Demand Skills for the Future of Work.” John Hatfield, Southern Middle Tennessee Regional Director for the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, led the industry representatives’ panel discussion. Blair Mann of Cooper Steel Fabricators, Keith Weaver of the Nearest Green Distillery, Shelby Morton of Marelli North America, and Scott Johnson of Musgrave Pencil Company provided remarks on employment skill set needs of local industries. The end-users, employers drive the curriculum of educators.
Mayor Chad Graham provided closing remarks for the Summit. The Shelbyville-Bedford Partnership supports local businesses and industry to grow a better Bedford and more successful Shelbyville. –GN