The construction industry is facing a dire workforce shortage. For every five retiring employees, there is only one person entering the workforce. As part of a highly collaborative public-private partnership, the Building and Construction Workforce Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee, is taking bold action to address this problem by launching the Construction Career Center.


The Career Center is envisioned to be an innovative vocational school and training center in the urban center of Chattanooga for teens and adults—and a 28,000-square-foot physical piece of curriculum itself that demonstrates key principles of green design and sustainable construction. Southface Institute helped make that a reality through our GoodUse program, providing grant funding and technical assistance to renovate a former school building into a cutting edge, high-performance Career Center.


Construction Career Center ribbon cutting | Photo by Darius Thompson

The Building and Construction Workforce Center will reap the benefits of efficiency upgrades, including proper insulation and sealing, year after year by saving mission-critical money on their utility bills to invest back into resources for their students.

Construction students posing with an electrical demonstration unit | Photo by Darius Thompson

On October 28, 2022, years of hard work and collaboration on the building renovation culminated at the Career Center’s ribbon cutting ceremony. The only thing left to do is train the next generation of skilled construction industry workers. The newly opened Career Center has three focus areas:

  1. Vocational School for High School Juniors and Seniors: Students can earn at least five certifications in construction and receive work-based learning opportunities and dual enrollment credit through Chattanooga State Community College.
  2. Adult Training Programs: Construction certification programs are offered through the Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT), and an apprenticeship program approved by the Department of Labor will be offered.
  3. Construction Career and Industry Center: Students are given access to career placement, guidance, and support services through the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of East Tennessee. The industry center includes the Building Careers for Life Center, a technology demonstration center, industry event space, training for teachers of certification programs, and continuing education and safety programs.


Southface’s GoodUse program makes stories like this possible every day, with 545+ nonprofits in 29 states impacted since 2008. Applications to be included in the next round of grantees are due February 17, 2023! Learn more and apply at

To support Southface’s mission, including programs like GoodUse, visit or email

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