Williamson County is known for high-achieving education at every level, from over half the workforce holding a bachelor’s degree or higher to public high schools ranking on national levels to elementary students taking home national titles in robotics. A great place for education has led to a great place for doing business. So how did we get here? It all starts with a partnership. “Williamson, Inc. is in so many ways the heart of our community. They bridge together work, education and play to help us come together as a community,” says Jason Golden, Williamson County Schools Superintendent.
While Williamson, Inc. and Williamson County Schools partner together on several programs, the relationship is centered around constant communication and consistent involvement. Paula Chilton, Career Coordinator and Strategic Partnership Liaison at WCS, not only attends the weekly Williamson, Inc. staff meeting, but she also has an office at Williamson, Inc. as she serves as the liaison between the two. “The partnership that we have with Williamson, Inc. is invaluable. Their outreach and support are a huge part of the success of our students at the EIC. They are a true part of helping us build the business leaders in Williamson County,” said Chilton.
The Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center (EIC) is an opportunity for students in tenth through twelfth grades to gain hands-on experience in entrepreneurship and innovation by starting a business, launching a product, or offering a service. Accepted students attend the EIC part-time each day with the opportunity to gain high school credit through two unique entrepreneurship courses. Williamson, Inc.’s Marketing and Communications Specialist, Jena Potter, is entering her second year as a mentor at the EIC. “At Williamson, Inc., we engage, inform, and connect the business community. It’s an honor to do the same for these students as they become an active member of that community,” Potter says.
“Williamson, Inc. allows us to thrive in this non-traditional space. We are not only building the next innovators, startups, and entrepreneurs; we are connecting the private sector to the students. The students are getting access to these businesses, mentors, and coaches that would not be possible without the unique partnership we have with Williamson Inc,” said Jeremy Qualls, Executive Director of CTE at the WCS Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center.
Exposing students to different industries and demonstrating how their academic studies relate to various career fields is a great way to inspire our future workforce and prepare them for the ever-diversifying economic climate in middle Tennessee.
Williamson, Inc’s support for WCS was on active display during the 2018 school sales tax referendum. The campaign in support of a 0.5% increase in sales tax to provide much-needed funding for school construction/renovation projects was led by Williamson, Inc. Ultimately, after voters across the county supported the measure by an astounding 2-to-1 margin, the measure produced $75 million in funding over a three-year period.
If you would like to learn more about this partnership, come to Williamson, Inc.’s yearly event, State of the Schools, on November 2, 2021. Details and registration can be found at williamsonchamber.com