Higher education in Warren County received a big boost in 2016 with the announcement Motlow State Community College would be constructing an advanced robotics center.
In November, Gov. Bill Haslam announced a $5.5 million grant for Motlow to fund the project in its entirely.
It’s touted as a training center that will attract visitors from across the Southeast and beyond as robots become a focal point in the manufacturing process. Long a part of automotive manufacturing, robots are now being used in food processing, healthcare, road construction, and even casket production.
“Our future looks brighter because of this new opportunity,” said McMinnville Mayor Jimmy Haley during the grant announcement. Added Director of Schools Bobby Cox, “It’s a great day to be alive in McMinnville.”
According to preliminary design plans, it will be a 12,500-square-foot facility that has five classrooms. It will be located off Vo Tech Drive next to Tennessee College of Applied Technology on 4.3 acres that was donated by the county.
“I see this as a huge economic implant,” said County Executive Herschel Wells. “We’re not only serving our local factories, we’ll be serving people from out of county and out of state. This helps our city and our schools because it brings in more sales tax dollars.”
Motlow vice president of academic affairs Melody Edmonds said projections have the facility opening for non-credit students in the spring of 2018. Students would be able to attend for credit in the fall of 2018. Enrollment is expected to be 400 students per year.
The $5.5 million grant, along with making the Southern Standard top 10 stories of 2016, made history as the largest grant Motlow has ever received.