Governor approves tech college construction funds

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 5:39pm TribuneG1

Years of advocacy for a freestanding tech college came down to a stroke of the governor’s pen this week. Gov. Nathan Deal signed the 2018-2019 state budget on May 2, allocating nearly $18 million in general obligation bonds to construct a Coastal Pines Technical College campus in Kingsland.

“We are excited to have an opportunity to have more of a presence in Camden County,” Coastal Pines president Glenn Deibert said in a press release. “Camden has been a strong supporter of our college and the residents and business community have been patiently waiting for a campus to provide more technical programs for Camden and the surrounding counties.”

Local officials have long lobbied the state to invest in a Camden tech school to help train the incoming workforce at Trident Refit Facility — reminding state officials that Kings Bay is the only military installation in Georgia without a tech college — and offer more educational opportunities for residents. Coastal Pines has held classes at the College of Coastal Georgia in Kingsland for several years.

“This is wonderful news — and long awaited,” Sheila McNeill, president of The Camden Partnership, said in a release. “We have been requesting a technical college for eight years. Even without their own campus, Coastal Pines has been providing outstanding educational support to our community, Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay and Trident Refit Facility. Once this new campus is built, it will be a source of strength for all of our community and the military presence in Camden. … Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Camden’s largest employer, requires a highly trained workforce. This technical college is critical to Camden County citizens and Kings Bay.”

In the last few years, legislators approved $1.1 million to design the campus on land donated by the Gross family off Maycreek Road in Kingsland. The site has water, sewer, power, telecommunications and other utilities and Camden’s governments have pulled together to build an access road to the 20-acre site. James Coughlin, the executive director of the Camden County Joint Development Authority, thanked Camden’s state and local officials for their collaboration to bring the project to fruition.

“I look forward to working with Coastal Pines Technical College and local employers to support training programs that provide real opportunities for men and women in Camden County to secure good, high-paying jobs in technical fields that make up the fastest growing segments of our nation’s economy,” Coughlin said.

Construction is set to begin in the fall and will include 63,000-square-feet of classroom space and labs for welding, industrial systems, electronics, engineering and other purposes.

“The governor’s signature and final approval of the state budget marks the beginning of the culmination of many years of hard work to secure funding for our technical college in Camden County,” state Rep. Jason Spencer said in a release. “There have been many partners involved along the way to make this day happen and I am proud to announce that these funds will now be coming to Camden County. I look forward to breaking ground on this project sometime in September, which will commemorate a jump start in our community’s work force development.”