Hamilton County has seen incredible economic growth over recent years, but not all in our community have shared in this success. That’s why the many Chattanooga 2.0 coalition members have been working together to help ensure we create clear and direct pathways for all of our students and residents to obtain the training, skills, confidence, and connections needed to fill the growing number of higher wage jobs already available in our community.
Now thanks to the Tennessee Reconnect Act proposed by Governor Haslam in his recent State of the State Address, we hopefully will have another state-funded resource at hand to help us prepare more of our residents for success here in Hamilton County.
Through the Governor’s proposed Reconnect Act, Tennessee can become the first state in the nation to offer a community college education tuition-free to all local adults without a postsecondary degree.
That can be an immediate game-changer for our community. And it directly aligns with two of the priorities identified by Chattanooga 2.0 – to double the number of residents in our community with some form of postsecondary education or training – and to connect more Hamilton County residents with the high demand jobs in our community.
Increasing access to postsecondary education will create a better prepared and higher quality workforce. By building upon the momentum and work of the Drive to 55 — the Tennessee Promise scholarship for high school seniors — and the current Tennessee Reconnect initiatives to offer tuition-free opportunities at all Tennessee Community Colleges and Colleges of Advanced Technology, we in Hamilton County can ensure that more of our local students and residents will be ready for the jobs that will help them and our community prosper.
We are pleased to support Tennessee Reconnect and look forward to doing our part in the process – as we all work together to make Chattanooga/Hamilton County the “Smartest Community in the South.”
Jared Bigham, Ed.D
Executive Director, Chattanooga 2.0
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