Driving Our Economy Forward: Associated General Contractors of East Tennessee

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — We’re introducing a new franchise here at News 12, focusing on the local economy.

Commercial construction is essential to growing both a community, and the economy.

Associated General Contractors of East Tennessee knows that’s the case, and that’s why they’re going above and beyond to train future workers.

AGC talked to News 12 about how they’re driving our economy forward.

“Associated General Contractors is the trade Association for commercial construction,” said Leslie Gower, who’s the CEO of Associated General Contractors of East Tennessee. “We have 230 commercial construction companies across 22 counties, and our mission is to build the foundation for the next generation of construction.”

So they decided to a few years ago to start a school.

“We did a survey to our members when we said what is important to you, and they said building a workforce,” Gower said. “And so through that we came up with the idea to start the school. Through that process we started talking with partners at Hamilton County schools and Chattanooga State and three entities came together to build a school.”

Workers tell News 12 it teaches them things they will never be taught at home, and then from there they will go to their job.

“When we came together to build this vocational school, and it’s a very unique model across the country,” Gower said. “Because you have high school students, you have adult students and you have employers all under the same roof. And that’s not a model that you typically see. The employers worked with the educators to come up with a curriculum that would get people employed once they graduate. So our metric for success is 100 percent placement of every student that’s graduating from the school.”

The training this school offers is needed now more than ever.

“There is a dire workforce shortage and construction for every one person coming into the industry, four people are leaving it,” Gower said. “The average age of a construction worker is about 50 years old right now. And so this whole school and everything that AGC does is to build our workforce. People coming through the school, are going to be able to get a job right our high school, right out of the training program. And there’s no college debt. This opportunity gives them a new career path. And gives them a new pathway to get into a career that’s gonna provide for them for the rest of their life. We intentionally picked this site so that we could come into this community and offer people new pathways for a success. We’re really excited about what we’re gonna see.”

Categories: Chattanooga, Driving Our Economy Forward, Education, Hamilton County, Local News