New Construction Career Center Breaks Ground in Chattanooga

By Abdiel Vallejo-Lopez

This week, state and local officials held a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Construction Career Center on Roanoke Avenue. City, state and industry leaders in attendance included Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee; Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger; Nakia Towns, Ed.D., Interim Superintendent, Hamilton County Schools; Rebecca Ashford, Ed.D., President, Chattanooga State Community College; Leslie Gower, CEO, AGC of East Tennessee; and Charles Woods, Vice President, Economic Development, Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce.

This $6 million renovation project is set to transform a vacant property into a 28,000-square-foot vocational school and will provide career opportunities for those interested in construction trades. The new Construction Career Center is replacing the former Mary Ann Garber School in Chattanooga’s Avondale neighborhood. Construction is set to begin this November and completed next July.

Once completed, the Construction Career Center will facilitate training for students and adults through hands-on and experiential learning. At capacity, the school will serve 160 high school students and 40 adults per day through dual enrollment programs at Hamilton County high schools and Chattanooga State Community College/Tennessee College of Applied Technology at Chattanooga. Students will graduate with at least five certifications in construction while receiving career placement opportunities through internships and work-based learning programs. The facility will also serve as the industry and career center for AGC of East Tennessee. Student enrollment will begin in April, 2022.

This project is a collaborative public and private partnership that aims to combat labor shortages in the construction industry. According to News Channel 9, the average age of a skilled construction worker is approximately 49 years. Currently, there are five people leaving the construction industry for every one person entering the workforce. The Construction Career Center hopes to enhance the perception of construction careers across the region and raise awareness of viable career paths in the construction industry.

Watch the groundbreaking ceremony, here.

Learn more about the Construction Career Center, here.