Governor approves expansion for Georgia Northwestern
May 15, 2017--11:33 a.m.
Opportunity for technical education in Whitfield and Murray Counties received a tremendous boost on May 1, 2017, with the approval of funding for the construction of a new classroom and industrial lab building on the Whitfield Murray campus of Georgia Northwestern Technical College.
On Monday, Governor Nathan Deal signed off on the State of Georgia’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget. Included in the legislation is $18.7 million to build a 75,000-square foot facility located on the GNTC campus serving Whitfield and Murray Counties. This will be the first new construction on the Whitfield Murray campus of GNTC since the establishment of the campus in 2010. The addition of the new building was made possible in large part by the transfer of approximately 23 acres of land to the Technical College System of Georgia by the Whitfield County School Board. The donation of land will allow the college to expand classroom space adjacent to the Northwest Georgia College and Career Academy and enhance opportunities for high school and college students to develop the occupational skills and knowledge needed by area business and industry. GNTC has received tremendous support from Governor Nathan Deal, state elected officials, local elected officials, the Dalton-Whitfield County Chamber of Commerce, the Whitfield County School System, area businesses, local industry and the entire community since the opening of the campus.
“For more than a decade, access to a wide range of technical career education opportunities has been lacking in our communities,” said Joe Yarbrough, President of the Carpet and Rug Institute. “Georgia Northwestern Technical College has demonstrated that it has the ability to respond quickly to the needs of the business community. GNTC is the entity that has proven its ability to offer the educational programs needed to develop the skills required to fill the gaps.”
Pending the approval of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, programs at the college’s latest construction may include Business Administrative Technology, Chemical Technology, CNC/Machine Tool, Computer Information Systems, Criminal Justice, Diesel Mechanic, Early Childhood Care and Education, Electronics, Engineering Technology, Health Information Technology, Industrial Systems, Logistics, and Welding.
Now that the funding has been awarded, a groundbreaking for the expansion will take place this summer. College administrators are hopeful they will be able to begin moving into the new building in the latter half of 2018. The new addition may possibly host its first classes in late 2018 or early 2019. Growth is expected to take place quickly, though. Since hosting its first classes five years ago, the WMC student body is now four times larger than it was in year one.
“The Whitfield Murray Campus is seeing very big growth in a short amount of time,” said Pete McDonald, President of Georgia Northwestern Technical College. “We could see enrollment at the campus grow to 4,000 students within the next five to ten years.” The WMC shares the current campus site with the Northwest Georgia College and Career Academy on Maddox Chapel Road in Dalton, Georgia.
With its unofficial title of “The Carpet Capital of the World,” the city’s companies see the importance of this next step in Dalton; not only for companies already in operation but for the companies who may be looking for a new site to do business. “The expansion of Georgia Northwestern will enable the current and future workforce to develop the highly technical skills necessary to succeed within the flooring industry and other manufacturing fields,” said David Morgan, Vice-President of Manufacturing of Shaw Industries Group, Incorporated.
Administrators are anticipating more growth among high school students, too, as a result. GNTC is among the best when it comes to enrolling and educating the area’s teenagers by way of the “Move On When Ready” (MOWR) program. Expanding the WMC, a campus which currently sits next door to the Northwest Georgia Career and College Academy will help expose more students to the program. MOWR helps Georgia’s high school students earn college credit at no cost to them or their families.
“Ultimately, to bring jobs to the area, we need to have something like this,” said Vann Brown, a member of the GNTC Board of Directors. The WMC is one of six campuses the college offers in Northwest Georgia. The others are located in Catoosa County, Floyd County, Gordon County, Polk County, and Walker County, Georgia. Currently, GNTC offers more than 200 programs to nearly 6,000 students on-campus and online. GNTC has offered programs across the region for more than 50 years.