Southwest Tennessee Community College

For Immediate Release

Date: September 21, 2009

For more information contact, Brenda J. Rayner, (901) 333-4247

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the New WIN/Southwest Offices Signals High Hopes for Fayette County

Local citizens from Somerville, Tennessee, elected officials, and governmental agencies from Middle and West Tennessee came on September 16 to support the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Workforce Investment Network (WIN)/Southwest Tennessee Community College office. The new shared facility, located at 116 West Market Street in the town square of Somerville, sits just across the street from the Tennessee Career Center-Fayette County Affiliate Site, which also houses classes for Southwest Tennessee Community College.

The impetus behind opening the new WIN office was the need for expanded services to meet the growing demand for jobs, job training skills and education, in order to stimulate the economy in Fayette County. Also to help meet these demands, the program director's position for the Tennessee Career Center-Fayette County Affiliate Site, held by Molly McCarley, has been increased from part- to full-time. "I will be working with many service providers to assist our clients in upgrading their skills for the workforce. The partnership with Southwest will enable us to move forward to provide greater educational opportunities for the citizens in Fayette County," said McCarley.

Russell C. Shelton, executive director of community and corporate relations for Southwest, has office space in the WIN/Southwest office. Shelton was assigned to head an initiative to build a Southwest Tennessee Community College Center in Fayette County in order to make higher education more accessible for the local citizens. An educational consortium was developed to promote the construction of the center. Shelton says the primary members of the consortium are Southwest, the University of Tennessee at Martin, The University of Memphis, the Tennessee Technology Center at Whiteville and local public and private school systems, along with county and city officials, State Senator Dolores Gresham and State Representative Barrett Rich.

In his greetings during the ribbon cutting ceremony, Southwest President Nathan Essex stressed the importance of building a center in Fayette County. "This is going to be a powerful tool to attract industry, raise educational levels, and to create a better quality of life for citizens here," said Essex.

Currently, the residents of Fayette County have to drive to either Memphis or Jackson, Tennessee, to get a postsecondary degree said Representative Rich, who expressed support for building a Southwest Center in Fayette County. "One thing I am so excited about is all of you coming here today and gathering the steam and the momentum for us to have a college campus right here in Fayette County to give residents of Fayette and surrounding counties the opportunity to get an education right here. It is exciting for me and I promise you this: that it is an initiative of mine and Senator Gresham to go to Nashville and fight for funding for this campus," announced Rich.

State Senator Gresham, chair of the Senate Education Committee declared, "I can tell you, as chairman of the senate education committee, that this is an extremely important move not only for this local area but for the state of Tennessee."

Fayette County Mayor Rhea "Skip" Taylor commented on benefits a Southwest Center would have for the citizens in Fayette County regarding jobs and the growth of their economy. "The Southwest Center by itself would be a magnet for all sorts of jobs in the county; we already have several ventures going on with this railroad project in Piperton and the industrial mega site. With Memphis coming out, this would be just one more gem we can offer folks, employers and residents as a benefit and as a service."

Shelton said progress is being made toward getting a center constructed. He is optimistic that an announcement will be made before October regarding a feasibility study. "We have received an offer of land; however the feasibility study will assist in determining the best location for the campus site. This may require the purchase of land."

The cost, Shelton said, may vary, depending on the construction start date. "We anticipate building a 20,000 to 25,000-square-foot facility. Again, the feasibility study will assist in determining the cost," said Shelton. He said the consortium is currently working with USDA rural development primarily to help fund the project. "Once the feasibility study is completed, we will start a fund-raising campaign that will include grants, corporate and individual donations," Shelton stated. There is no projected completion date at this time.


Photo caption: Ribbon Cutting Ceremony participants (l to r) are State Senator Dolores Gresham; Julie Perrine, executive director of Fayette County Chamber of Commerce; County Mayor Rhea (Skip) Taylor; Molly McCarley, program director, Fayette Co. WIN; Jim Russell, executive director of WIN; Southwest President Nathan Essex; Susan Cowden, administrator for TN DOL and Workforce Dev.; Russell Shelton; executive director of Community and Corporate Relations for Southwest; Lt. Governor John S. Wilder; Barbara Walls; and Robin Terry, executive director for the Oakland Reg. Chamber of Commerce. Other supporters pictured include: State Rep. Barrett Rich; Co. Commissioner Tom Karcher; U.S. Sen. Bob Corker Field Representative Nick Kistenmacher; Judge Mike Whitaker; Somerville Mayor Bob Morris; Oakland Mayor Bill Mullins; Oakland Alderman Chuck Wombaugh; Pastor Wallace Montague, Mt. Zion M.B. Church; and Rev. Larry Kendrick, First United Methodist Church.