Workforce & Industry

Workforce Development

The Cleveland/Bradley County area is home to 13 Fortune 500 companies with a workforce that manifests a strong work ethic. Employees apply themselves and work hard to ensure the job gets done.

The community, however, is not content to maintain the status quo. A well-trained, motivated workforce is key to the continued growth of our community, so much effort is going into maintaining and improving one of our area’s strengths—its workforce. The Chamber’s Workforce Development Program brings business and education together in programs designed to enhance and develop the labor force necessary to meet the challenges of today’s business climate and tomorrow’s technological advancements.

Click below for more information.

Workforce & Education Programs of the Chamber

The Chamber’s Education & Workforce Development Committee manages several long-range workforce development programs in cooperation with our local public schools:

BEST Partnerships (Business & Education Serving Together)—This program unites the efforts of the business/industry sector and local school systems to forge partnerships that involve a commitment of time, energy and expertise between a Chamber-member business and a selected public school or private Chamber-member school. Each partnership is designed to benefit both business and education through available resources.

Career Fair—All area eighth-graders will participate in a Career Fair and have an opportunity to visit with local business and industry professionals to learn about potential careers. Also they will learn about what career technical education opportunities are available in their high school programs. The Career Fair will make students aware of what career opportunities are available for them and what steps are necessary to reach that career potential.

Cleveland/Bradley Youth Leadership—This seven-month program is designed to provide an opportunity for high school juniors and seniors to develop leadership skills and gain a better understanding of the local community. Participants are selected through an application process. Applications must be turned into the respective school’s guidance office to be submitted to the Chamber with a current transcript. A steering committee reviews all applications and makes final selections.

Job Shadowing—High school juniors learn about careers by “shadowing” people actually involved in them. Workplace hosts show students what they do and talk about the knowledge and skills required to succeed in today’s workplace, particularly the job being “shadowed.” The ultimate goal is to give students information and experience needed to make smarter career choices.

Senior Interviews—High school seniors are taught how to prepare a resume, fill out an application and practice interviewing skills. Then they are interviewed by a business professional and provided with immediate
feedback. This program helps students prepare for real-world experiences.

Training & Resources

Chamber staff members also work with business/industry to meet short-term workforce challenges through regular communication and sharing of ideas/programs with human resource managers and plant managers.

Many area education partners stand ready to assist employers/employees in workforce training and other business developments, including

Cleveland State Community College—A comprehensive two-year community college operating within the governance of the Tennessee Board of Regents and approved by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. Associate degrees are available in over 40 fields of study.

Located on the campus of Cleveland State Community College is the One Source Workforce Readiness

Center, which has deployed two new manufacturing skills assessment machines designed and built by Scientific Management Techniques Inc. (SMT). The Computer Numeric Control (CNC) and Process Control Assessment Machines are used to identify and measure skills in the hiring process and to identify training needs of the industrial workforce. The center is directed by Rick Creasy, or 423-614-8763.

Tennessee College of Applied Technology—Programs of study include automotive technology, business systems technologies, electronics, industrial maintenance, machine tool technology and welding. The TCAT at Athens strives to meet the training needs of local industry and will design special industry training for an existing business requiring additional training for its employees or a new business that requires entry-level training for prospective employees. For more information contact the TCAT at 423-744-2814 or

Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development—This office, located in Athens, will screen potential employees for skills needed by employers, provide labor market information and coordinate training assistance programs that are funded by Workforce Investment Act monies. For more information call 423-745-2028.

Lee University—A private, comprehensive university operated by the Church of God, Lee is one of the largest Christ-centered institutions in Tennessee and the largest in the Appalachian College Association. This fully accredited liberal arts institution offers over 100 baccalaureate degree programs within 50 majors and accredited graduate programs in five areas of study.

Tennessee Wesleyan University—A four-year liberal arts institution associated with the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church, Tennessee Wesleyan offers over 30 majors in its traditional day program. It also offers bachelor of science and bachelor of applied science degrees in general management and accounting in its evening program, designed for working adults.

University of Tennessee Center for Industrial Services (UTCIS)—UTCIS is the statewide business assistance and education service of UT’s Institute for Public Service. Staffed by professionals with extensive experience in all aspects of corporate management in a variety of industries, they can provide assistance in many varied areas. The Tennessee Manufacturing Extension Program (TMEP) is a part of the nationwide Manufacturing Extension Partnership and provides many services, including human resources and workforce development programs in team building, leadership training, communications training and problem solving. For more information contact Harding Aslinger, area field consultant, at 423-634-0850.

Small Business Development Center (SBDC)—No-cost services provided by the SBDC include business plan preparation, one-on-one business management counseling, and financial planning and loan applications. For more information call 423-472-6247.

Oak Ridge Centers for Manufacturing Technology—Operates the Manufacturing Skills Campus, which offers intense hands-on and performance-based training courses for area industries. More than 25 separate centers provide a wide array of expertise, including ultraprecision manufacturing technology, composite manufacturing, medical health engineering and manufacturing. They also feature national broadcasts on industry-relevant topics via remote electronic hook-up and a virtual training model that reduces traditional cost and schedule barriers.

Bradley/Polk Adult Education—Provides workplace classes to upgrade employees’ basic skills, performs job task analyses to identify needed skills, helps existing employees acquire a GED, and helps limited-English workers learn English as a second language. For more information, contact Zoe Renfro at 423-473-8473.