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Having launched its “Your Skills. Your Future.” initiative in January, the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce continued to spread the word by visiting the Cleveland Kiwanis Club on Thursday.

Chamber Director of Workforce Development Sherry Crye and Director of Existing Industry Programs Lisa Pickel were on hand to share more information about “Your Skills. Your Future.”

According to Crye, the local education facilities have been making every effort to offer classes related to manufacturing, skilled trade and technical careers, but up until recently, neither students nor parents were especially familiar with the benefits of those career fields.

“Bradley County is the sixth largest county in Tennessee for manufacturing,” Pickel added. “It’s not going away and we need your help to get the word out.”

Working with local CTE programs, as well as Cleveland State and TCAT in Athens, it is the Chamber’s hope that this three-year initiative can bolster the workforce in the area, as more and more companies are looking to move in.

“We’re trying to communicate that two-year degrees are not of a lesser value,” Crye stated.

CTE Supervisor and Kiwanian Renny Whittenbarger, who aided in the development of “Your Skills. Your Future.” believes that the initiative falls right the Cleveland and Bradley CTE wheelhouses.

Whittenbarger is glad to see more of a focus coming back to skilled-labor and technical careers, after seeing them come in second behind four year degrees for many years.

“We got caught up in an arena of prestige concerning four year degrees and a domino effect has followed,” Whittenbarger stated. “Skilled trades and two-year programs fell behind and we now need many skilled workers.”

The CCS CTE Supervisor believes that with “Your Skills. Your Future.” parents and students will become more aware of the opportunities available for skilled-labor and two-year programs.

For more information about the “Your Skills. Your Future.” initiative, visit

Other Kiwanis news:

n On Saturday, March 4, Kiwanians will be helping out at the 13th annual Happy Birthday Dr. Suess celebration at Cleveland State. The event will be held in the library from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.