Officials hope to break ground on a $5.9 million building at the Cherokee County campus of Spartanburg Community College in November.
Daryl Smith, director of the Cherokee County college campus, said the 27,200-square-foot Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Industrial Technology (CAMIT) will house lab space and classrooms for several disciplines not offered at the Cherokee County campus before.
Cherokee County students interested in studying mechatronics (a mix of classes involving industrial electricity, electronics and repair), welding, machine tool and robotics will now be able to take those courses locally, rather than having to drive to the Spartanburg campus.
"We hope to start in November and open in August 2015," Smith said. "Of course, we want it tomorrow. We really hope we can develop the workforce to bring some industry here and support existing industry with technically trained employees."
SCC President Henry Giles said the CAMIT will accommodate about 200 more students at the Cherokee County campus. The campus now has about 600 full-time students and another 60 students who take continuing education courses, such as computer skills.
The funding for CAMIT was appropriated as a one-time capital investment by the state Legislature — $3.5 million in 2012-2013, and another $840,000 for 2013-2014. Giles said the college originally planned to contribute about $700,000 but after getting cost estimates, rather than build a smaller center, the college decided to fund more through grants and other sources.
"We have those funds in hand," Giles said Wednesday.
When a study of Cherokee County's workforce showed that 20 percent of residents did not have a high school diploma or GED, Giles said officials came together to change the mindset about higher education. Cherokee County Council is also on board, funding scholarships for students interested in manufacturing careers.
CAMIT will be another valuable educational venue for the Cherokee County campus to offer training to make the county more competitive for industries looking to relocate, Giles said.
"It gives children the feeling that, 'Yes, I can go to college,'" Giles said. "We have to convince young people to get more than a high school education and encourage more adults to go back to school."
The training offered at CAMIT will give graduates earning potential of $14 to $15 an hour up to $20 to $25 an hour for more skilled positions, Giles said. Yearly salaries for these kinds of jobs could equal $40,000 to $60,000.
The project will go before the State Budget and Control Board in April to view architectural plans and cost estimates, and then the college will be able to take construction bids.
"We're doing everything possible to be able to open in the fall of 2015," Giles said. "We're pushing for a contract for as soon as we can."
The new building isn't the end of expansion plans for the Cherokee County campus, which occupies about 10 acres. Giles said another 50 acres is available for expansion and officials are looking to buy two more parcels, about 16 acres total, which could give the campus coveted frontage on Interstate 85.
"This land is going to give us prime property for the future of that campus," Giles said.
View article at GoUpstate.com