Workforce Development

Partnering for progress, connected for success.

We Focus on Workforce Preparedness

Russell County is known for its dedicated workforce and for educating people to meet the actual needs of companies located in its boundaries. For example, when Northrop Grumman and CGI announced they were coming to Lebanon, local economic development entities, the educational community and government leaders formed a Workforce Development Advisory Team that worked with local community colleges to deliver a 34-week Fast Track ICT (Information, Communications and Technology) training program that helped fill immediate workforce needs. Today, these programs are an integrated part of curricula at the institutions.

For a longer-term solution, county leaders founded a technology training center, the Southwest Virginia Technology Development Center, as part of the Russell County Governmental Center, built in 2006. The nearby University of Virginia’s College at Wise was contracted to oversee the center, which, today, provides unprecedented ICT training and other learning and leadership development programs – all planned in partnership with local business and industry.

Another workforce development partner is the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center (in nearby Abingdon), which is a satellite teaching facility for nine colleges and universities in locations surrounding Russell. These schools include Emory & Henry College (Emory), King University (Bristol), Old Dominion University (Norfolk), Radford University (Radford), University of Virginia (Charlottesville), University of Virginia’s College at Wise, Virginia Commonwealth University (Richmond), and Virginia Highlands Community College (Abingdon), and Virginia Tech (Blacksburg).

Initiatives in other parts of Virginia also help build our workforce, such as Engineers PRODUCED in Virginia, an undergraduate engineering degree taught online. The program was developed by the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and is carried out in Southwest Virginia through four nearby community colleges.

A concentrated effort has also been made in our Russell County Public Schools system to deliver classrooms enriched with STEM and ICT training initiatives that prepare students for technology jobs and additional collegiate technology training.

Learning Institutions That Feed our Workforce

Besides these immediate resources, 53 colleges and universities are located less than three hours from Russell County that help grow our workforce. Notably, six of these hold certifications from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), a national accrediting agency for applied science, computing, engineering and engineering technology programs. The ABET-accredited programs are taught at East Tennessee State University, Radford University, Virginia Tech, University of Virginia’s College at Wise, Appalachian State University, and University of North Carolina-Asheville.

  • The University of Virginia’s College at Wise (Wise County) offers the only bachelor’s degree in software engineering available in Virginia.
  • Fast track software programming, IT help desk training, and manufacturing technology programs are among the learning options offered by community colleges and workforce training centers in Southwest Virginia.
  • Both Mountain Empire Community College and Southwest Virginia Community College provide training for the Career Readiness Certificate (CRC), which helps employers determine job qualification levels of job applicants.

Below is a complete list of colleges, universities, and professional schools located within three hours of Russell County.

* Educational programs certified by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).


  • Appalachian School of Law (Grundy)
  • Appalachian College of Pharmacy (Oakwood)
  • Bluefield College (Bluefield)
  • Edward Via Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine (Blacksburg)
  • Emory & Henry College (Emory)
  • New River Community College (Dublin)
  • * Radford University (Radford)
  • Roanoke College (Salem)
  • * University of Virginia’s College at Wise (Wise)
  • * Virginia Tech (Blacksburg)
  • Virginia Western Community College (Roanoke)
  • Wytheville Community College (Wytheville)
  • Southwest Virginia Community College (Cedar Bluff)
  • Virginia Highlands Community College (Abingdon)
  • Mountain Empire Community College (Big Stone Gap)


  • Carson Newman University (Jefferson City)
  • * East Tennessee State University (Johnson City)
  • King University (Bristol)
  • Knoxville College
  • Lincoln Memorial University (Harrogate)
  • Maryville College (Maryville)
  • Milligan College
  • Tusculum College (Greeneville)
  • University of Tennessee (Knoxville)
  • Northeast State Community College (Blountville)
  • Walters State Technical Community College (Morristown)
  • Pellissippi State (Knoxville)

North Carolina

  • * Appalachian State University (Boone)
  • Lees-McRae College (Banner Elk)
  • Lenoir-Rhyne University (Hickory)
  • Mars Hill University (Mars Hill)
  • Montreat College (Montreat)
  • * University of North Carolina-Asheville
  • Warren Wilson College (Asheville)
  • Maryland Community College (Spruce Pine)
  • McDowell Technical Community College (Marion)
  • Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College (Asheville)
  • Catawba Valley Community College (Hickory)
  • Wilkes Community College (Wilkesboro)

West Virginia

  • Bluefield State College (Bluefield)
  • Bridgemont Community and Technical College (Montgomery)
  • Concord University (Athens)
  • University of Charleston (Beckley)
  • New River Community and Technical College (Beckley)
  • Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College (Mount Gay)
  • West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (Lewisburg)
  • West Virginia University Institute of Technology (Montgomery)


  • Alice Lloyd College (Pippa Passes)
  • University of Pikeville (Pikeville)
  • Big Sandy Community and Technical College (Prestonsburg)
  • Hazard Community and Technical College (Hazard)
  • Southwest Kentucky Community and Technical College (Cumberland)