West Georgia Technical College is planning a new campus in Carroll County to replace its current 50-year-old facility, provide additional space and expand instructional offerings.
The campus will be located on about 40 acres in the Buffalo Creek Technology Park near the west end of the Hwy. 166 Bypass in Carrollton. Carroll County and the City of Carrollton developed the Tech Park and the Carroll County Development Authority has committed property there for the campus.
“From my first day at West Georgia Tech, people have been talking about a new campus in Carroll County,” WGTC President Dr. Scott Rule said. “We know we need it. Our educational partners know we need it. Our industrial and business partners know we need it. Our students know we need it. The College has been working for years to get to this point, and we are so pleased to announce that, through the generosity of the Carroll County Development Authority, property is committed and we are also working with a $4 million state allocation in this fiscal year to hire architects and project managers for campus construction.”
Rule said the Technical College System of Georgia has requested an additional $49.4 million in next year’s state budget for campus construction. As part of the state budget, these funds will need to be approved by the General Assembly in its 2019 session.
WGTC operates five full-service campuses across seven counties in West Georgia. Over 7,100 credit students are enrolled this fall.
Carroll County Area Vocational Technical School opened in 1968, making Carrollton one of the original sites for what is now West Georgia Tech. About 1,700 credit students attend class on the Carroll Campus this fall. About 100 additional students are taking GED prep classes there.
Daniel Jackson, president and CEO of Carroll Tomorrow and the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce, said he and his staff have been working with a number of community partners for several years on this project.
“It has taken the cooperation of all our partners to get to this point,” Jackson said. “I think you can look back at 1968 and see the vision of those men and women who knew that technical training was needed if Carroll County were going to grow. And it has grown. It has grown so much that the facility they built in 1968 can’t accommodate the training we need now.”
Jackson said community leaders sat down with Technical College System of Georgia leadership about three years ago and laid out the case for why a campus is needed.
“We told them that West Georgia Tech has five campuses and its busiest campus – in Carrollton – is not able to provide the space or the technology that is needed to train students to do the jobs in Carroll County,” Jackson said.
“We heard from them that Carroll County needed to step up and put skin in the game. We believe the land committed by the development authority in the Tech Park was the impetus needed at the state level to get the ball rolling,” he said.
Local legislators have been instrumental in securing the $4 million in design money this year, and will be crucial to obtaining construction money in future state budgets, Rule said.
“As Georgia’s economy continues to grow we must work to provide opportunities in a wide array of highly skilled, high paying jobs,” State Senator Mike Dugan (R-30) said. “We are fortunate that we have an institution like West Georgia Technical College to help our people get the skills and training necessary to fill those jobs. With this new facility, we will be able to provide even more opportunities, offer the potential for our citizens to work careers of their choosing, and keep Georgia as the best state in the nation for economic growth.”
If construction funds are approved by the General Assembly in 2019, they could be available by August, Rule said.
“At a minimum, the new campus will include all of the instructional programs offered at our existing Carroll Campus,” Rule said. “The construction budget would support a campus of around 160,000 square feet plus a full commercial truck driving range. The current campus is about 100,000 square feet including all the various buildings on the Newnan Road site. Obviously there are programs we would like to add to better support the businesses and industries in Carroll County.”
Carroll Tomorrow is assisting WGTC with the necessary job climate assessments to justify new programming that can be offered to fill the job demand in Carroll County, Jackson said.
Carroll County Development Authority Chairman Tim Warren said the authority believes investment of land in the Tech Park will lead to more growth.
“West Georgia Tech is a regional technical college with many resources they can bring to bear with the right facilities,” Warren said. “If we truly want to have a workforce that has the skills needed in today’s economy, we need the educational resources here in Carroll County to teach and train our people. We can attract more industry – and we can better support our existing industries – when we have all the educational resources available to fully support their workforce needs.”
Rule said the new location has a number of advantages.
“Anytime you relocate, you want to be sure that you don’t disrupt current student travel,” he said, “but the new site is only four miles from our current location. It’s in very close proximity to University of West Georgia, which we think will be a real advantage to our continuing partnership with them. It’s near Carrollton High School and Central High School, and it allows us room for now and room to expand later.”
Dugan said he believes the campus will aid Carroll County in continuing to grow jobs.
“I am proud that the historically strong efforts put forth by West Georgia Technical College have been recognized at the state level,” Dugan said. “The belief that even better things are in store for our future are what led to us investing into this awesome new facility.”
West Georgia Technical College, with campuses in Carroll, Coweta, Douglas, Haralson and Troup counties and class sites in Heard and Meriwether counties, offers more than 120 associate degree, diploma and technical certificate programs of study. A unit of the Technical College System of Georgia, West Georgia Tech is one of the largest of the state’s 22 technical colleges. For more information, please visit westgatech.edu.