Workforce Development & Education

The Cleveland/Bradley County area is home to 12 Fortune 500 companies with a workforce that Richard Appeldoorn, general manager at Schering-Plough, finds most impressive.  

“I see a strong work ethic manifested here,” he says. “Our people apply themselves, and they work very, very hard.”

The community, however, is not content to maintan 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.

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

Tennessee ScholarsA rewards-and-recognition program that encourages students to complete a more rigorous course of study in high school. Tennessee Scholars is a business-led program coordinated by the Chamber  and geared at the middle 50 percent of students. It is centered upon course completion rather than simply grade-point average. Requirements outside of the enhanced curriculum include 80 hours of volunteer service in the community and a minimum of 95 percent school attendance. Students in the program benefit from scholarship opportunities and preferential hiring at some local businesses.

Business/Industry in the ClassroomEmployees from local businesses and industries teach a 45-minute class in grades 9-12. Their objective is to relate to students the importance of basic employability skills to their future. Employees gain a better understanding about teaching students workplace requirements.

Job ShadowingHigh 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.

Teachers AcademyTeachers participate in a four-week, on-site project in an area business/industry during the summer. By working on a special project or shadowing throughout the company, the teacher will “experience” business while providing a service to the business/industry. The goal is to impact classroom teaching through exposure to skills necessary to perform well in the workplace.

Ethics in the WorkplaceA program that brings local business and education professionals into high school classrooms to speak about work ethics and ethical conduct in general. The program is a response to area business/industry concerns about the declining work ethic among some younger employees. The seminars complement character education programs coordinated by local school systems.

Reality CheckAll area eighth-grade students are introduced to household budgeting, the incomes associated with various occupations, and the relationship between education and earnings by participating in a real-life budgeting exercise. In the activity, students are assigned a career and family situation. They then go to stations manned by business volunteers who sell them goods and services to provide for their family. This program is a partnership of the Chamber of Commerce and Junior Achievement of the Ocoee Region and complements JA's Personal Economics program.

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. Click here to download an application for the 2013-2014 class.  

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 business and a selected public school. Each partnership is designed to benefit both business and education through available resources.

Short-term Workforce Challenges
Chamber staff members also work with business/industry to meet short-term workforce challenges through the following:

  • Quality Council seminars held six times a year for business/industry managers and employees on a wide variety of topics, including lean manufacturing, quality initiatives, process control, customer service and workforce training
  • Seminars held in conjunction with Business Development Month in May
  • 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

  • Bradley County 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.
  • 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.
  • Lee University—A private, comprehensive university operated by the Church of God, Lee now is the largest Christ-centered institution in Tennessee and the second largest of Tennessee’s 35 accredited private colleges and universities. This liberal arts institution offers bachelor’s degrees in more than 48 majors in over 100 programs of study and also offers 15 master’s degrees.
  • Tennessee Wesleyan College—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's of science and bachelor's of applied science degrees in general management and accounting in its evening program, designed for working adults.
  • 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.
  • 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 contact David Hudson at 423-472-6247 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .
  • 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.
  • Tennessee Technology Center at Athens—Programs of study include automotive technology, business systems technologies, electronics, industrial maintenance, machine tool technology and welding. The TTC 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 TTC at 423-744-2814 or
  • 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 or visit the website at

225 Keith St SW
PO Box 2275
Cleveland TN 37320-2275
Phone: 423-472-6587
Fax: 423-472-2019


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