Norris praises Drive to 55 Capacity Fund Grant for TCAT Memphis

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) hailed the grant as a giant step forward.

“Shelby County is home to more medical device manufacturers and suppliers than almost any county in the United States. The medical device industry is Tennessee’s largest exporter, responsible for 17,000 local jobs. It contributes $2.6 billion to the economy and some $46 million in annual revenues to state and local governments.

“It is incumbent on us to help ensure that the medical device industry remains a vital part of Tennessee’s economy. A ready, skilled workforce is essential, and this grant is significant,” said Norris.

TCAT Memphis, under the direction of Roland Raynor and his team, working with the City of Bartlett and the Haas Foundation, will utilize the $4 million grant to create a new, satellite campus supporting a new medical device institute.

“This grant will enable students to pursue careers in advanced manufacturing with specific training in the medical device industry. As far as workforce development and education go, this is a giant step forward on West Tennessee’s pathway to prosperity.”


The Commercial Appeal: TCAT Memphis nets $4 million to advance Drive to 55

The Memphis campus of the Tennessee College of Applied Technology is adding a medical device institute with a $4 million grant announced Wednesday from Gov. Bill Haslam's office.

Haslam distributed 10 grants across the state worth a total of $24.3 million, aiming to aid colleges in addressing the growing capacity thanks to his Drive to 55 initiative that aims to raise the number of Tennessee residents with some sort of college degree to 55 percent.

TCAT Memphis Assistant Director Nathan Garrett said the money will be paired with a $1 million grant from the Gene Haas Foundation to create the Gene Haas Medical Device Institute.

TCAT last month opened a medical device training facility at Bartlett High School, where students can take dual enrollment classes to learn the technology before they graduate high school.

"That was the first step and now here’s the second step," Garrett said of the planned institute, which will also be in the Bartlett area.

According to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, the institute will train approximately 240 students annually in three programs associated with the medical device industry, and aims to graduate 1,600 students by 2025.

Source: The Commercial Appeal

Haslam Announces Drive to 55 Capacity Fund Grants

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced the recipients of the Drive to 55 Capacity Fund, an initiative designed to support colleges and universities as enrollment increases since the launch of Tennessee Promise.

“Tennessee has seen unprecedented numbers of students enrolling in college for the first time. As Tennessee Promise has made college a reality for so many of our students, we are committed to providing our institutions with the resources to support them,” Haslam said. “The Drive to 55 Capacity Fund assists our campuses in getting these students to and through college so we can continue to close the skills gap in Tennessee’s workforce.”

The fund awarded a total of $24.3 million to ten colleges and universities. The projects funded include a new TCAT training facility in Anderson County through the Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) Knoxville, an advanced robotics training facility for Motlow State Community College, and an expansion of the nursing program at Dyersburg State Community College.

First-time freshman enrollment at Tennessee’s colleges and universities grew by 10 percent in 2015, including a 25 percent increase at community colleges and a 20 percent increase at TCATs. Tennessee also saw a historic year-over-year growth in the state’s college-going rate in 2015, increasing 4.6 percentage points in just one year. 

“As we have expanded access to higher education through the Drive to 55, it is crucial that we ensure colleges and universities have the resources to prepare students for the workforce,” Mike Krause, executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, said. “The process of awarding these funds was very competitive and each funded program will provide opportunity and growth to students across our state.”

A total of 44 proposals were submitted, requesting a combined $120.9 million for construction or renovation or for program expansion. All projects seeking funding were required to demonstrate need for building capacity to respond to student enrollment and statewide workforce demands.

Proposals were reviewed by a team of readers from across state government, including the Department of Economic and Community Development, the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, the Tennessee Board of Regents, and the University of Tennessee system. Based on reader scores and final approval from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, projects were selected for funding. -

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GMMDC Partners with GMACW on America's Promise Grant

Through a partnership with the GMMDC, the Greater Memphis Alliance for a Competitive Workforce (GMACW) will lead a strategic partnership of manufacturing industry leaders, training providers and workforce agencies to provide education, training, support services, and job placement assistance to more than 1,000 adults  to meet the highly skilled needs for in-demand jobs in the local medical device manufacturing sector. 

The MOVE-HIRE (Medical device Occupations Value Education and Help In the Regional Economy) project will target low-income and under-represented individuals. 

The America’s Promise grant competition is for tuition-free education and training programs for unemployed or underemployed adults, and up to 20% of the grant funds can be used for training incumbent workers. 

The MOVE-HIRE application addresses the lack of skilled manufacturing workers in the Memphis metropolitan statistical area. 

As part of the grant process, GMACW referenced GMMDC data that shows that the lack of skilled manufacturing workers is impacting industry productivity and growth as well as the region's ability to attract new manufacturing. 

As part of the requirement for the America’s Promise grant, GMACW worked with the GMMDC and other industry and  education leaders to create career pathways in advanced manufacturing for participants to advance their training and education to secure future, higher-paying jobs and careers in fields that are currently occupied by H-1B visa workers. 

Other partners in the application include the Greater Memphis Chamber, the Bartlett Area Chamber of Commerce, the Workforce Investment Network, the University of Memphis, Arkansas State University Mid-South, SouthwestTennessee Community College, Tennessee College of Applied Technology, William R. Moore College of Technology, Memphis Bioworks Foundation, and Workbay LLC.

Bartlett High School Gets Medical Device Shop Grant

With support from the GMMDC, the city of Bartlett and TCAT, Bartlett High School is on its way to developing a new cutting edge medical device shop to develop students for post-secondary opportunities. 

The program was made possible thanks to a more than $200,000 grant  from TCAT that help provide new machinery, shop updates and training to instructors in order to develop a medical device program that will give students a real experience of working in the industry. 

"The goal is to provide juniors and seniors at Bartlett High School experience in a 21st-century medical device shop," said Nathan Garrett, TCAT director of workforce innovation. "Through this program, they will get to see how the industry operates. We believe this program will be a significant feeder program into post-secondary programs."

Garrett said the city of Bartlett made significant contributions to make the program possible in Bartlett. 

The new and improved shop is scheduled to open for students October 17. 

Apprenticeship Working Group

For the past few months, a dedicated group of individuals from across the Memphis Medical Device spectrum have worked together to create something truly unique.  

Representatives from Wright Medical, Microport, Smith and Nephew, Odyssey, Titan, and Onyx have worked to define the skills needed by the future employees of an industry that is crucial to the economic health of the Greater Memphis Area.

Coming together for a few hours each week, they have helped to develop the structure of an Apprenticeship program that will develop the skilled machinists that will produce all variety ofOrthopaedic and Spinal implants and instruments.

What makes this group so unique is that their companies are competitors in the marketplace but are collaborating together to address a critical shortage of skilled employees needed to produce products that are in high demand.

Using an Apprenticeship structure created by NIMS, the National Institute of Metalworking Standards, this Apprenticeship Working Group has defined the Entry Level Skills needed to enter the GMMDC Apprenticeship Program and has reviewed and approved the NIMS skillsets for the entire Apprenticeship program.  They have also defined a set of skills that go beyond the NIMS standards that include state of the art advanced technologies that need to be mastered to produce the complex products required by the industry.

In addition to the skills needed within the Apprenticeship program, the Working Group also developed processes for individuals to apply for entry into the program, and also how individuals accepted into the program would be matched up with GMMDC member companies needing Apprentices.

The work was done without compromising any intellectual property of the member companies and helped create a healthy respect for the professionalism that exists within these companies that compete in the market but have worked together to address a common need.

Members of the GMMDC Apprenticeship Working Group are:

  • Jerry West – Wright Medical
  • Joel Robinson – Microport
  • Billy Hogue – Smith and Nephew
  • Joey Greenwell – Smith and Nephew
  • Patrick Gilmore – Onyx Medical
  • David Nelms – Odyssey Medical
  • Randy Ransdell – Odyssey Medical
  • Robert Kenyon – Titan Medical
  • Roy Smith – GMMDC Executive Director

GMMDC Executive Director Roy Smith continues to get the word out on Medical Device Industry training needs

GMMDC executive director Roy Smith has spent the last few weeks furiously getting the word out on the training needs of GMMDC members. 

Smith said he used the opportunity to meet with several local vocational institutions along with an appearance on WKNO's Behind the Headlines, all in the name of bringing awareness of GMMDC's mission. 

"We’re committed to working with Tennessee College of Applied Technology, Moore Tech College of Technology, Arkansas State University Mid-South, Southwest Tennessee Community College and others to collaboratively work together to develop individuals to meet the needs of GMMDC members," Smith said. 

Smith has also been working with the Greater Memphis Alliance for a Competitive Workforce over the past few weeks to determine how the current workforce can meet GMMDC members' needs. 

"We’re helping  GMAC to understand the specific needs by skillset of the Medical Device industry so we can gauge the pipeline of skills development that needs to be in place," he said. 

 Beyond these meeting, Smith also attended a ceremony at ASU Mid-South  to help them celebrate the accreditation of their facility by the National Institute of Metalworking Standards.  ASU Mid-South has also been certified to the “Right Skills Now” curriculum which is a fast-track method of developing individuals with a solid toolkit of entry-level skills for a machining career. 


Global medical device and precision technology leader to invest $12 million, create 280 new jobs

NASHVILLE Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd along with Olympus officials announced today the company will construct a new East Coast national service and distribution center in Bartlett Corporate Park.

Olympus will invest $12 million in the facility, which will operate as a service and distribution center for a variety of Olympus medical equipment and devices such as endoscopes, surgical devices and generators, and create 280 new jobs in Shelby County.

“We thank Olympus for its continued investment in Shelby County and for helping Tennessee be a global leader in the healthcare and medical device sector,” Haslam said. “This expansion will create new opportunities for hundreds of West Tennessee families. We congratulate Olympus as we continue our work to make Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs.”

“Today’s announcement represents the largest jobs commitment made by a company in Bartlett since 2000,” Boyd said. “To have a company like Olympus that is known around the world for its innovative medical devices choose Bartlett for its new national service center speaks volumes to Tennessee’s thriving healthcare industry. We appreciate the jobs Olympus is creating for our Team Tennessee workforce and look forward to seeing the company’s continued success.”

The Bartlett facility will be Olympus’ second national service center with the company’s first location residing in San Jose, Calif. The decision to build a second national service center was based on Olympus’ need for additional capacity to handle the growth expectations in the service, supply chain and logistics areas of its medical business. Construction is expected to begin this spring.

"In addition to unparalleled products, we strive to provide world-class service to our healthcare customers every day. Our future Bartlett service and distribution center will further enable this goal as we take advantage of the unique logistics and transportation capabilities in the Memphis area, benefit from close proximity to our customers in the eastern United States, and enhance our ability to expedite turnaround times," Nacho Abia, president and CEO of Olympus Corporation of the Americas said. "On behalf of my colleagues in our growing medical devices business, I am very much looking forward to expanding our operations in the Bartlett community and creating jobs to be filled with the area’s skilled workforce.”

Olympus is a global company with its headquarters, Olympus Corporation, based in Tokyo, Japan. Olympus Corporation of the Americas a wholly owned subsidiary of Olympus Corporation – manages the company’s operations and business activities throughout North and South America.

Local leaders and partners expressed gratitude to Olympus for its decision to expand in Bartlett and create new jobs in West Tennessee.

“We are so excited to have the additional 280 new jobs over the next five years,” Bartlett Mayor A. Keith McDonald said. “We are blest to have Olympus in Bartlett and we know they will attract many other good paying jobs and other companies to Bartlett and this area. We look forward to contributing to their success and the many great opportunities they will bring here.”

"This is another indication that companies see the advantage of expanding their businesses in our community. This is welcomed news for Shelby County," Shelby County Mayor Mark H. Luttrell, Jr. said.

“TVA and Memphis Light Gas and Water congratulate Olympus on its decision to expand in Bartlett, Tennessee and create additional job opportunities,” said TVA Senior Vice President of Economic Development John Bradley. “We are proud to partner with Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, Bartlett Area Chamber of Commerce, Bartlett Industrial Development Board, city of Bartlett and Shelby County, to facilitate the growth of existing companies in our region, furthering TVA’s mission of service to attract and retain quality jobs in the Valley.”

“This announcement is great news for Bartlett, Shelby County and the state and comes at a very fitting time as Bartlett celebrates its 150th anniversary this year,” Bartlett Area Chamber of Commerce President John Threadgill said. A lot of folks from both the public and private sectors have been working hard to develop and promote our community as a medical device leader. This announcement signifies the continuing success of our efforts.

Olympus will begin accepting online applications once positions have been posted and plans to begin hiring this summer/fall.

Bartlett and Shelby County are represented by Sen. Mark Norris (R Collierville), Sen. Brian Kelsey (R Germantown), Sen. Reginald Tate (D Memphis), Sen. Lee Harris (D – Memphis), Sen. Sara Kyle (D Memphis), Rep. Jim Coley (R Bartlett), Rep. Ron Lollar (R Bartlett), Rep. Steve McManus (R Cordova), Rep. Curry Todd (R Collierville), Rep. Mark White (R Memphis), Rep. Raumesh Akbari (D Memphis), Rep. Karen Camper (D Memphis), Rep. Barbara Cooper (D Memphis), Rep. John DeBerry (D Memphis), Rep. G.A. Hardaway (D Memphis), Rep. Larry Miller (D Memphis), Rep. Antonio Parkinson (D Memphis), Rep. Joe Towns (D Memphis) and Rep. Johnnie Turner (D Memphis) in the Tennessee General Assembly.

About Olympus

Olympus is a global medical device and precision technology leader focused on enhancing people’s lives every day through innovative solutions in its core business areas of Medical and Surgical Products, Scientific Solutions, and Cameras and Audio Recorders. Olympus Corporation of the Americas a wholly owned subsidiary of Olympus Corporation in Tokyo, Japan is headquartered in Center Valley, Pennsylvania and employs more than 5,000 people across North and South America. For more information, visit Olympus at

About the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development’s mission is to develop strategies which help make Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs. To grow and strengthen Team Tennessee, the department seeks to attract new corporate investment in Tennessee and works with Tennessee companies to facilitate expansion and economic growth. Tennessee is the only three-time winner of “State of the Year” for economic development by Business Facilities magazine. Find us on the web: Follow us on Twitter: @tnecd. Like us on Facebook:


MDMA, AdvaMed and MITA Applaud Congress for Passage of the Medical Device Tax Suspension

Washington, D.C. – The Medical Device Manufacturers Association (MDMA), the Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed) and the Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance (MITA) today applauded Congress for passage of the two year suspension of the medical device excise tax in year-end legislation.

“MDMA thanks the tireless, bipartisan leadership in Congress that achieved this important milestone on the road towards permanently repealing the medical device tax,” said MDMA Chairman Scott Huennekens, President & CEO of Verb Surgical. “MDMA has fought against this misguided policy since it was first proposed in 2009, and while suspension of the medical device tax is a positive step, we will remain focused on repealing a policy that only serves to punish a vital sector of America’s innovation ecosystem.”

“America’s medical technology companies, including our nearly 2 million employees and the countless patients we serve, appreciate the broad bipartisan effort to suspend the medical device tax. This critical relief would not be possible without the tireless efforts by a large group of champions in Congress as well as among the patient, provider and research communities. Congress and the administration have demonstrated that they recognize the negative effects of this tax. We urge policymakers to continue their work to eliminate the device tax and address other factors that are threatening the health care innovation ecosystem,” said AdvaMed Board Chairman Vincent A. Forlenza, chairman, CEO and president of BD.

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Krause pledges support to medical device training

Tennessee executive director of the Drive to 55 and Tennessee Promise initiatives, Mike Krause, attended the November meeting of the MGMMDC where he pledge his support of the Council’s efforts to develop an industry specific training program. 

Krause said the training for medical device industry is key to providing secondary education options to Tennesseean that will lead to jobs. 

Krause has lead the implementation and launch of the Tennessee Promise program and oversee all Drive to 55 efforts, including the statewide Seamless Alignment and Integrated Learning Support (SAILS) early math remediation program, online innovation initiatives, Degree Compass expansion, adult student analytics and research, veteran education efforts, and the development of post-secondary scorecards.

Tennessee Promise commits to providing two years of community college or a college of applied technology (TCAT) absolutely free of tuition and fees to graduating high school seniors beginning with the class of 2015.

It is the signature component of Haslam’s Drive to 55 push to increase the percentage of Tennesseans with post-secondary credentials to 55 percent by the year 2025.

The GMMDC Board presented to Krause an outline of what it felt was needed to adequately address the education and training requirements for the industry. Though the program is still a work in progress, and thus no details were provided, Krause did indicate that the Governor is very much aware of the industry’s importance to the State’s economy and wants to work with the Council. In addition to Krause, Tennessee Senate Majority Leader, Mark Norris and House Education Committee Chairman, Mark White were also in attendance. Both men have closely monitored the actions of the GMMDC and stand ready to assist in whatever way they can.