Skip to content

McMillian to Business and Education Leaders: Think Regionally and Support Existing Industries

21st CENTURY TCAT – A new Tennessee College of Applied Technology campus is under construction in BlueOval City that will offer certifications for future careers at the Ford Motor Company electric vehicle and SK On battery manufacturing plants being built at the Megasite in Haywood County’s Stanton. TCAT BlueOval City Executive Vice President and TCAT Jackson President Heath McMillian revealed plans to members of the West Tennessee Chapter of the American Advertising Federation during the group’s first meeting of 2023 at Discovery Park of America in Union City last week. Seated to the right is DPA President and CEO Scott Williams.

By Sabrina Bates
MVP Regional News Editor

Progress, partnerships and support were resounding themes during the West Tennessee Chapter of the American Advertising Federation’s first meeting of the new year recently held at Discovery Park of America in Union City. The guest speaker for the Thursday, Jan. 19, lunch event was Heath McMillian, president of the Tennessee College of Applied Technology – Jackson. West TN AAF members got an exclusive look at the plans of the TCAT under construction at the nearly-micropolitan known as BlueOval City in southwest Tennessee.
While BlueOval City is going to house Ford Motor Company’s largest single investment in the form of an all-electric manufacturing plant as well as a companion company, SK On, which will produce and recycle batteries for the electric fleet, construction is underway for a 124,000-square-foot TCAT campus. McMillian is executive vice president of the TCAT BlueOval City site.
He explained all new TCAT projects must be built under an existing TCAT. In this case, the parent campus is TCAT of Jackson. The projected completion date for construction of the 21st-Century technology-based campus at BlueOval City is April 2024, with the manufacturing facility rolling off its first all-electric truck in the first quarter of 2025.
The $40 million campus will provide courses directly related to careers at BlueOval City, and training for highly-skilled operators. Some of the mentioned courses included maintenance, mechatronics and electric-vehicle production technicians. Floor plans show classrooms positioned above large, hands-on learning labs.
The Tennessee Board of Regents, which governs TCATs, has a little more than 29 acres near Stanton for the new campus. Upon construction completion, the Tennessee General Assembly has to approve accreditation for the new campus and class enrollment will open for students.
McMillian said he has toured high schools and secondary-learning institutions across West Tennessee in preparation of an expected needed workforce of about 6,000. When asked where the workers are going to come from, he said the workforce is already here. McMillian reported there were approximately 400,000 adults in Tennessee without some sort of diploma.
“Most of them are competent, but life got in the way,” he shared.
He also announced during his tours, the Obion County School System has mechatronics, dual-enrollment and maintenance classes available for high-school students.
“They (OC School System) are ready for this. UT Martin is also ready and engaged, offering classes in welding, auto body and auto repair,” he shared.
Obion County Schools Director of Career and Technical Education George Leake spoke to this reporter briefly after the lunch session. Leake said the school system has offered mechatronics and robotics prior to the announcement by BlueOval City in an effort to help recruit new industry to Obion County. With half a million dollars worth of equipment, certifications offered and dual-enrollment courses through UT Martin, Leake said they want to do their part for the workforce and give students what they need to easily further their education upon graduation, regardless of their pathway to a secondary institution. The dual-enrollment courses are designed around an engineering path at UT Martin.
Leake said he is hopeful the workforce courses will enhance the county’s economic development and attract new industry and industry aligned with parts for BlueOval City.
McMillian reminded the audience, made up of educational and business leaders, to continue supporting their current industries and businesses and advocate for their continuous improvement.
“Don’t forget who brought you here. … Build relationships with suppliers that will lead to partnerships. Support continuous economic development and growth,” McMillian said. He reiterated the need to focus on “regionalism,” as these projects are bringing together partners from across West Tennessee.
“If Weakley County gets a new business, Obion County benefits. For one manufacturing job, there are seven supporting jobs from that one,” he shared.
He also stressed the need for marketing BlueOval City and TCAT as some people he has spoken to told him they don’t know about either.
“We have a lot of work to do to market it correctly and let people know there are jobs and what jobs are available,” McMillian concluded.
The BlueOval City TCAT campus will offer open enrollment for courses, meaning students can enroll in courses any time throughout the year. While the campus is under construction, other West Tennessee TCATs continue to offer courses in robotics, maintenance and manufacturing. Financial aid is available for all high school students through Pell grants and the Tennessee Promise scholarship. Non-traditional students can also attend TCAT programs through the Tennessee ReConnect scholarship. Contact your nearest TCAT for more information about financial aid and courses. Contact TCAT Jackson at 731-424-0691.
Business leaders interested in being a part of the West TN Chapter of the American Advertising Federation need to email

Leave a Comment