On the heels of signing a five-year agreement that will see the Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) leasing a portion of Lincoln Central Academy (LCA), local officials learned Lincoln County is one of 59 Tennessee counties to receive a ThreeStar grant that will benefit the program.

Gov. Bill Lee and Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe announced the ThreeStar grant award Thursday. In total, TNECD is awarding $2.4 million in funding to Tennessee communities through this round of the ThreeStar grant program.

Earlier in the week, officials representing Lincoln County and the Lincoln County School System, as well as TCAT, signed the lease agreement approved last month. The agreement allows for a portion of the building, formerly known as Ninth Grade Academy, to be used by TCAT for instruction.

“I am so thankful for the Lincoln County Board of Education deciding to offer the LCA facility for lease to the TCAT centers so our students can reap the benefits of the training and opportunities afforded other communities through the TCAT centers,” said Dr. Bill Heath, director of Lincoln County Schools. “I do believe this will be a game-changer for Lincoln County.”

The Lincoln County ThreeStar program will receive a $24,000 grant, according to the announcement made Thursday.

“The funds from our ThreeStar grant will be used to purchase equipment for an Information Technology and Infrastructure Management (cybersecurity) program, which will be a dual enrollment program offered by the TCAT-Shelbyville at Lincoln Central Academy,” said Elaine Middleton, executive director of the Fayetteville-Lincoln County Industrial Development Board (FLCIDB). “This was a need determined by our community stakeholders from our asset-based planning meetings back during the summer.”

FLCIDB serves as Lincoln County’s ThreeStar sponsoring entity for the program.

“TCAT-Shelbyville is very excited to learn Lincoln County was awarded this grant,” said Laura Monks, who heads TCAT-Shelbyville. “Focusing on workforce development, the grant will be used to fund equipment for our first program in our new space at Lincoln Central Academy. It is definitely perfect timing as we make plans to bring expanded workforce training options to our area.

“The TCAT-Shelbyville Information Technology and Infrastructure Management program provides students the knowledge and hands-on training necessary to protect an industry’s computer network or to troubleshoot numerous computer user issues,” she said. “The program currently has an 85-percent placement rate with graduates employed in healthcare, defense, government, education, or industry sectors.

“As of Oct. 1, individuals seeking training in the skilled trades will have another option in Lincoln County,” Monks added. “After some renovations, TCAT-Shelbyville will begin offering classes at Lincoln Central Academy in January 2020.”

Updated information will be provided on the TCAT’s website at Monks said they are also in the process of establishing an office in the facility for interested individuals to contact for more information.

Statewide, the grants will be used for a variety of community development initiatives, including education, workforce development, health, entrepreneurship and economic development programs, among others that are prioritized by the communities.

“These 59 ThreeStar grants will help counties all across Tennessee invest in vital community development initiatives,” said Gov. Lee. “I’m eager to see these programs strengthen the quality of life, access to workforce training programs, and economic opportunities for our residents in rural Tennessee.”

“The ThreeStar grant program has a proven track record of success, and I’m pleased to announce this year’s grant recipients,” Rolfe said. “TNECD is proud to assist communities that are committed to improving their workforce readiness and quality of life with these types of innovative local programs.”

ThreeStar promotes economic and community prosperity through collaboration to positively impact every Tennessean. For the third time in the past four years, all 95 Tennessee counties gained ThreeStar certification.

To be eligible for ThreeStar grants, each county must meet all ThreeStar certification requirements, develop an asset-based strategic plan and design a program to implement a goal from its strategic plan. The 59 counties were selected out of 78 applications.

“TNECD is committed to helping communities in areas that they prioritize on a local level,” said Jody Sliger, TNECD’s community development director. “We are proud to partner with these 59 communities and support a wide range of community development programs all across our state.”

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