BTES Receives International Recognition for Economic Development Efforts


Indianapolis, Indiana – Bristol Tennessee Essential Services (BTES) received international recognition on Tuesday, October 15 from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) for its work in Business Retention and Expansion Initiatives. BTES received the top award – the Gold Award – for its Teacher Industry Day Program. (Business Retention and Expansion Initiatives category; segmented by population size)


“Teacher Industry Day is an innovative opportunity that brings businesses in our community together with educators to provide learning experiences and insight of the relevant skills needed and available jobs in our community,” explained BTES Business Development Manager April Eads. “The all-day event is designed to connect schools with businesses to promote economic and career development.”


IEDC's Excellence in Economic Development Awards recognize the world's best economic development programs and partnerships, marketing materials, and the year's most influential leaders. This year’s IEDC awards program netted over 430 submissions for awards in 34 categories. Eads accepted the award at the annual IEDC conference which is the largest yearly gathering of economic development professionals from across the country and the world.


“The recipients of IEDC’s Excellence in Economic Development awards represent the very best of economic development and exemplify the ingenuity, integrity, and leadership that our profession strives for each and every day,” said 2019 IEDC Board Chair Tracye McDaniel. “We’re honored to recognize more than 100 communities for their excellent work, which forges new opportunities for our profession.”


Over the past 23 years, over 700 teachers have participated in Teacher Industry Day.


“Teacher Industry Day began as a way to promote economic development and career development in our community,” said BTES CEO Mike Browder. “Each year, we start the day with a brief program for our participating teachers and industries and then each teacher in attendance is paired with an industry in our community. The teacher spends the day with leaders at that organization – touring their facility, discussing career opportunities and, ultimately, learning what skills are needed to work at that company.”


The goal of Teacher Industry Day is for the teachers to take what they learn back to their classrooms and help their students be prepared for a career pathway.
Browder continued, “We want to give our students the best education possible and this starts with educators knowing what skills are needed and what jobs are available in industries right here in our community.”


This is helping to bridge a huge gap in economic development.


Eads explained, “In the 1940s when a student graduated from high school, he or she was qualified for 80 percent of the jobs in the market. Today when a student graduates from high school, he or she is qualified for less than 20 percent of the jobs available. Bridging the gap between job openings with a qualified workforce helps our existing industries grow and brings in new jobs and capital investment into our community. As anyone in economic development arenas knows, one of the first items on the list of industries looking to move to a new community is a qualified workforce. It is our collective responsibility to do everything we can to facilitate a conversation between industries and educational leaders so they can prepare our future workforce and provide an informed career pathway for the students.”