Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College broke ground Thursday on a new Applied Technology Center at the Williamson campus.
The building is being financed by a bond passed by the West Virginia legislature in 2007. That bond was created with the purpose of building new campuses and technology facilities for the state’s community and technical colleges.
The new technology center will be a 25,000 square foot facility and will cost $6 million to construct.
“Today, we are seeing a vision become a reality,” Southern President Joanne Jaeger Tomblin said. “In 2006, Southern decided to have more technical programs, and our Foundation has made bold moves toward that end.”
The building will feature the flexibility for Southern to change programs as the need arises.
“We will be able to house new programs as or change old ones,” President Tomblin said. “We will have a plaza and a more campus-like atmosphere.”
Rep. Harry Keith White was among the dignitaries on hand for the event. He commented on the investment of state in the facility.
“Southern took advantage of the 2007 legislation to prepare for future jobs,” White said. “Education gives you more bang for your buck than anything paid for by our tax dollars.”
Keynote speaker Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said technology programs such as those offered by Southern are training people for the jobs of the future.
Fifteen years ago, the governor said the focus of community colleges was partnering with four-year institutions. But in that time, West Virginia has created an independent community college system.
“There are 10 freestanding community colleges in the state now,” he said. “Southern has been a leader in that effort.”
“In 1971, 25 percent of our students were enrolled in technical programs,” President Tomblin said. “Today, that number is 55 percent. We know in the future 75 percent of all jobs will require a post secondary education, and those with two-year degrees will outpace those with four-year degrees. We are playing a role in making this happen.”