Gov. Haslam visits Chattanooga college graduation
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam was in Chattanooga this morning to speak to graduating of students from Chattanooga State Community College.
This class was one of the first to included students who studied under the Tennessee Promise program.
The governor was the featured speaker at the ceremony held at Abba’s House in Hixson.
Many of the 588 students attended classes at Chattanooga State Community College’s Tennessee College of Applied Technology for free thanks to the Drive to 55 program developed by Haslam 5 years ago.
The governor noted that he was there mostly to celebrate — and thank — the graduates. “You’re meeting a need for us out there, we have folks saying ‘We will come to Tennessee, if you can help us find these positions’, so thank you, you are actually achieving that,” said Haslam.
Drive to 55 aims to increase the number of Tennesseans with post-high school educations to 55 percent by 2025 through a number of initiatives, including Tennessee Promise, which offers scholarships to high school graduates entering community colleges.
Haslam said, “So if you’re sitting out there thinking, ‘Wow, I’d like to be one of these folks, I’d like to do what they did.’, you can do that, and it’s free here and I hope you won’t miss the opportunity.”
Haslam says since Drive to 55 was first launched, and unemployment was at ten percent, the state has come out of the recession.
“We’ve added about four hundred and fifty thousand net new jobs in Tennessee, but now the situation’s changed, I have employers saying, ‘Hey, can you find us some more welders? Can you find us some more IT folks? Can you find us some more mechanics?'”
There were 55 welders, 50 electricians, 45 cosmetologists and 29 medical assistants who graduated in this class.
After the ceremony, the governor spoke on a number of issues at a news conference. He worries about tariffs which he says are hurting Tennessee automakers like Volkswagen and Nissan.
Also included on that list are farmers, says Halslam who hopes the president will change his mind.