Clarksville event kicks off Middle Tennessee Reconnect launch

Marla Rye, left, president of Workforce Essentials, Inc., meets with Martha Harper and Marisa Roberts of Austin Peay State University.

Marla Rye, left, president of Workforce Essentials, Inc., meets with Martha Harper and Marisa Roberts of Austin Peay State University.

Dozens of potential applicants attended a launch event for the Middle Tennessee Reconnect Network at Workforce Essentials, Inc., on Madison Street, this week, gathering for the opportunity to meet with higher education representatives and to meet with a Reconnect advisor about the best way to return to school and complete their degree or certification program.

Middle Tennessee Reconnect is an initiative aimed at helping the more than 200,000 Middle Tennesseans with some college, but no degree, complete their course of study. The initiative is part of Gov. Bill Haslam’s Drive to 55 program.

“We couldn’t be more pleased by the response we received from people in the region,” said Laura Ward, director, Middle Tennessee Reconnect Community, in a news release. “We had more than 80 people come through during a three-hour period to meet with area educators and learn about their options. They’ve taken the first step in starting down the path to a degree or certification and more marketable skills.”

Haslam has set a goal of raising the number of Tennesseans who’ve completed a post-secondary degree or certificate program to 55 percent of all Tennesseans. He argues that the Drive to 55 program is the surest way to raise per capita incomes across the state.

“The people who came here today are interested and motivated,” said Marla Rye, executive director, Workforce Essentials, Inc., in the release. “Having that degree or certificate on your resume just increases the odds people will be considered for promotion or expansion of duties by their current employer or simply a more attractive candidate to a potential employer.”

The Middle Tennessee Reconnect Network is also open to adults who have never attended college after high school. Interested adults can still go to www.midtnreconnect.org and sign up to meet with a Reconnect advisor in their area to learn more about going back to school.

Adults will receive free career counseling, college advising and support along the way from career center advisors at Tennessee Career Centers across the region. The community brings together adults who want to re-enter or begin a certificate or degree program, employers who support expanding the education of the workforce, higher education providers from technical colleges, community colleges and universities, and community partners that support adults around the region.

The Middle Tennessee Reconnect Community, along with the other Tennessee Reconnect Communities, was established in 2015 by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission in partnership with the Graduate! Network and through technical assistance and funding from Lumina Foundation and the state of Tennessee.

For more information, visit www.midtnreconnect.org, or contact Director Laura Ward at lward@nashvillechamber.com or 615-743-3046.

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