GNTC’s Whitfield Murray Campus Expansion Close to Completion
If construction stays on schedule, it will be 20 months from groundbreaking to opening the door of the Phase II Project of Georgia Northwestern Technical College’s (GNTC) Whitfield Murray Campus (WMC). After the August 2017 groundbreaking in Dalton, Georgia, the 80,000-square foot facility will begin seeing its first students as early as this summer.
“We’ve been told we could have the keys to the brand new building as early as April 1,” said GNTC Associate Vice President of Special Projects Dr. Ginger Mathis. “The construction crews were able to get the interior of the complex closed in before all of the heavy rains came over the past month. That’s allowed them to make a lot of progress towards completion.”
Along with the work of the Balfour Beatty Construction Company, the corporate support from the community has been instrumental in completing the project. Vendors from throughout the flooring industry in Northwest Georgia are helping equip the college’s brand new Carpet Industry Training Center that will be located in the new complex. “It’s not just the building of the facility that is being made possible by so many, it’s also much of the equipment necessary to train the next generation of workforce in the industry,” added Mathis. “It’s simply been a huge community project.”
After the state legislature appropriated $900,000 in planning funds in 2014, local support began to ramp up in 2015 when the Whitfield County Board of Commissioners first approved gifts in-kind toward site development and a commitment of more than $1,000,000 towards the project. The Whitfield County School System then donated the 23 acres of land necessary. In the end, more than $20 million of state and local funding will go towards completing the project.
Beginning in April, GNTC plans to begin its own first steps in completing the facility. The installation of furniture, information technology resources, audio-visual resources, and program equipment will be underway throughout the spring. “We hope to be up and running for some summer semester courses,” said Mathis. “It all depends on how well everything progresses. Our first full semester of GNTC courses to be offered in the new complex will be Fall 2019.”
The college held its first classes at the WMC in 2010. At that time, all of the college courses were offered within the Northwest Georgia College and Career Academy facility. By 2016, GNTC had its own building on the property, as well. The WMC student body grew to more than 1,000 students in the 2016-17 school year.
This year, the new facility will offer programs that will help train the future workforce of Northwest Georgia. Industry in the region has expressed a need for programs such as Chemical Technology, Engineering Technology, Precision Machining and Manufacturing, Computer Information Systems Technology, Industrial Systems Technology, Supply Chain Management and Logistics, and Diesel Mechanic Technology. “There is even a real need for quality diesel mechanics in this area,” said Mathis. “They aren’t only needed for 18-wheelers. From industrial equipment to the automobile industry, there is a true demand for this field right now.”
GNTC currently has six campuses across Northwest Georgia. Students can attend courses either online or on the Catoosa County Campus, Floyd County Campus, Gordon County Campus, Polk County Campus, Walker County Campus, or Whitfield Murray Campus. Day and evening courses are offered throughout the year.
“I think great things are going to continue to come out of this institution. I think you are going to see many more people that are going to have a light in their eye. Because they are going to have the hope that what they are doing in the classroom is going to translate into a job and a salary to support themselves and their families,” said Georgia Governor Nathan Deal at the 2017 Groundbreaking Ceremony.
Georgia Northwestern Technical College provides quality workforce education to the citizens of Northwest Georgia. Students have the opportunity to earn an associate degree, diploma, or a certificate in business, health, industrial, or public service career paths. This past year, 12,785 people benefited from GNTC’s credit and noncredit programs. With an annual credit enrollment of 7,499 students, GNTC is the largest college in Northwest Georgia. GNTC has an additional enrollment of 5,286 people through adult education, continuing education, business and industry training, and Georgia Quick Start. GNTC is a unit of the Technical College System of Georgia and an Equal Opportunity Institution.
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