See below to learn why Kingsport is the perfect place to earn the benefits of a Higher Education.

The Higher Education Program

The Kingsport Higher Education Program is the winner of the 2009 Innovations in American Government Award from Harvard. To learn more about this award click here.

To view Higher Education Award Winning Documents click here.

The Kingsport Higher Education Program started with and initiative called “Educate and Grow”, the nation’s first K-14 education initiative that funds post-secondary education for qualified students from the City of Kingsport and Sullivan County. Educate and Grow was coupled with plans to create an Academic Village, where local entities could invest in the creation of their future workforce. Local businesses and educational institutions have jumped at the opportunity to partner with the City of Kingsport to train a skilled workforce for the area The high level of communty envolvement has made the program an enormous success. The potential that the Higher Education Program has to be implemented in other localities has gained national attention and is an excellent example of how to stimulate a struggling manufacturing economy through action.

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In the late 1990’s, community leaders decided to face the implications of an unpleasant fact: the area’s historically strong manufacturing base was in a steep decline that seemed likely to continue for the foreseeable future, perhaps indefinitely. Kingsport’s public school system, widely recognized as one of the best in the state, was placing many of its graduates in first-tier colleges; however, few of these bright young people were returning. These problems and ideas for addressing them were the focus of an “Economic Summit” in 1999.

As a result, the city of Kingsport decided to increase its financial support, channeled through the local chamber of commerce, for encouraging outside businesses to consider the advantages of locating in the area. A common thread for this new road to success was having a marketable workforce to lure outside businesses to the area to allow for diversification of the economic base.

The city agreed to launch “Educate and Grow,” embodying the message to individual young people and to the community as a whole. Under this program, Kingsport, joined soon after by Sullivan County Government (SCG), offered scholarships at Northeast State Technical Community College (NESTCC) to any local high school graduate who met the college’s entrance requirements. The first scholarships were awarded in the fall of 2001. The SCG approved a resolution soon after appropriating $200,000 for county-wide support during the 2001-2002 school year. The scholarships pay about 70 percent of full tuition allowing students to complete a two-year associate’s degree or earn some credits for transfer to a four-year college. In effect, the two local governments have expanded a conventional K-12 public school program to a K-14 program, with the final two post-secondary years being optional.

To learn more about the Educate and Grow Program click here.

The Academic Village

The next step was for Kingsport to offer a site for a NESTCC branch campus. A few years earlier, the TN Dept of Transportation indicated funds were available to build a bus terminal assisting Kingsport to develop a public transit system. The purchase price for the old building would be about half the cost of building a new terminal, but renovation costs were substantial, and state funds for construction dried up. The building combined a good location with 16,000 square feet of floor space, three times the amount needed for adequate transit administration and terminal space.

The Regional Center for Applied Technology

Many key local players, acting in concert, helped persuade federal agencies that the Regional Center for Applied Technology (RCAT) would be a sound investment. The city, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), the Economic Development Administration, and the U.S. Department of Transportation together contributed over $1.1 million for renovating the building (with approximately one-third of its space to be used for a bus terminal and the remainder for RCAT). RCAT was projected to have 1,000 students by the fifth year of operation. That goal was met within two years.

The Regional Center for Applied Technology

The Regional Center for Health Profesionals

In 2007, the city constructed a Regional Center for Health Professions (RCHP) in the downtown area, at a cost of $4.8M. NESTCC will offer two-year degrees in nursing, medical laboratory technology, cardiovascular technology, surgical technology, dental assistant and emergency medical technician/paramedic.

The Regional Center for Health Professionals

To learn more about the Regional Center for Health Professionals click here.

The Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing

Two more facilities are under construction and will open in the fall of 2009. The Eastman Chemical Corporation and Domtar Paper Mill have partnered with NESTCC to construct the Regional Center for Applied Manufacturing (RCAM). Here, these companies can train specifically skilled labor for specific purposes in their organizations.

The Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing

For more about the Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing click here.

The Kingsport Higher Education Center

The Kingsport Higher Education Center (KHEC) will be the main building of the academic village. Funded by the City, the KHEC has interest from eight colleges and universities that desire to offer a variety of courses for academic credit.

The Kingsport Higher Education Center

For more about the Kingsport Higher Education Center click here.

The Five Year Kingsport Goal is to improve to 30% of its citizenry with a Bachelor’s degree, stimulated by the Higher Education Program.

To view Higher Education Award Winning Documents click here.

To view articles about Kingsport Higher Education click here.

To view a presentation about Higher Education click here.