UCOR, the federal government’s cleanup contractor in Oak Ridge, is contributing $100,000 to the construction of a new math and science building at Pellissippi State Community College, a press release said.
The contribution was announced by UCOR on Thursday.
“Workforce development is at the heart of a new partnership between UCOR, an AECOM-led partnership with Jacobs, and Pellissippi State Community College,” the press release said. “The collaboration is focused on ensuring that Oak Ridge has a continuing pipeline of trained, qualified workers for environmental cleanup and other future industry needs. To launch the partnership, UCOR is contributing $100,000 toward construction of a new math and science building at Tennessee’s largest community college.”
As part of the partnership, other programs are in the works to strengthen small businesses and the broader workforce as part of the partnership, UCOR said. On Tuesday, August 13, UCOR and Pellissippi State sponsored a Small Business Diversity Summit that presented information from global companies about building more diverse and inclusive workforces, the press release said.
UCOR is also developing a speaker series at Pellissippi State targeted to small businesses that will address workforce safety management, including lessons learned from the company’s high-risk work at U.S. Department of Energy sites.
“UCOR and Pellissippi are currently exploring developing an industrial hygiene program that would help provide local industry with often hard-to-find professionals in this field,” the press release said.
UCOR said it employs 1,800 workers as the Department of Energy’s lead cleanup contractor in Oak Ridge. Many of the workers are employees of small business subcontractors, the press release said.
“With decades of environmental cleanup remaining in Oak Ridge, companies like ours will continue to need a well-trained, highly-skilled workforce,” said Ken Rueter, UCOR president and chief executive officer. “We view Pellissippi State as a vital partner in making sure these future workers are available.”
With the rapidly changing demographics of the regional workforce, there is a growing need for new workers and a corresponding need to train them, the press release said. That requires expanding existing classroom and laboratory space for that training. Pellissippi State is meeting that need with the new Bill Haslam Center for Math and Science, an 82,000-square-foot facility being made possible by contributions like that from UCOR as well as funds from new state financial assistance programs like Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect.
“We appreciate UCOR’s support for Pellissippi State and for higher education in general,” Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. said. “The need is great. Some of our laboratories are at full capacity 12 hours a day, five days a week. The new building will double the capacity of many of Pellissippi State’s core courses.”
Located on the Hardin Valley campus in Knoxville, the new building will provide 18 classrooms, six computer labs, and nine science labs as well as a teacher education center. Ground was broken for the project in May. It is expected to open for classes in 2021. Wise said the new math and science center is part of the largest expansion of Pellissippi State’s facilities in 44 years. Groundbreaking is planned for later this year for a new 62,000-square-foot workforce development center on the college’s Blount County Campus in Friendsville.
UCOR is responsible for cleanup of DOE’s East Tennessee Technology Park, former home of the Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant, and other parts of the Oak Ridge Reservation. The company said it is supporting DOE in transforming ETTP into a multi-use industrial park that will be home to new job-producing industries.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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