The estimated $5.5 million, 37,000-square-foot building planned for the site will house manufacturing programs that will support, and attract, manufacturing in the area, according to Tri-County Tech spokeswoman Rebecca Eidson. She said the main programs will include CNC machine tooling, industrial electronics technology, mechatronics and logistics. Other courses will be offered to support the educational needs of the area.
Eidson said a groundbreaking ceremony will take place sometime this summer and the campus is scheduled to be open for the 2018 fall semester.
Richard Blackwell, executive director of the Oconee Economic Alliance, said the Tri-County Tech campus is part of a larger workforce development initiative at the industrial park.
“This will be a true workforce development campus,” Blackwell said. “Right beside Tri-County Tech is going to be a new adult education center and our vocational high school, the Hamilton Career Center, is going out there too.
“You know, we talk about partnerships, we talk about synergy; this is all coming to life on the same piece of dirt inside the industrial park.”
Eidson said the partnership “will be a unique center for technical education, work-based learning, and economic development.”
“The co-location benefits the students and makes good economic sense,” she said. “Generally speaking, career center students can use the facilities during the day and Tri-County can use the equipment in the afternoons and evenings. Rather than purchase similar equipment at two locations, both can share some of the same equipment and labs.”
Eidson also said cost savings can be realized through shared roadways, curbing, water/sewer, parking, and other amenities. In addition, “we envision industries will have the opportunity to groom future employees by providing internship and cooperative education experiences on site for high school and college students,” she said. “We have the opportunity to create a model for the rest of the country.”
Oconee Industry and Technology Park
Blackwell said about 1.1 million cubic yards of dirt are being moved in preparation for the Tri-County Tech campus.
“It’s impactful in the amount of work they’re doing and what’s coming,” he said. “We always hear about the need for a skilled workforce and that new campus will be teaching mechatronics, machining, industrial electrics and industrial engineering, and supply chain management.”
The programs coming to the industrial park will be beneficial to current and future tenants of the industrial park, Blackwell said.
Baxter Enterprises and Hi-Tech Mold & Engineering Inc. announced their move to the industrial park in March 2016. The full-service suppliers for the plastics industry occupy an 87,000-square-foot facility in the industrial park. The firms invested $20.7 million in the project.
“I’m told Baxter will start hiring in May. They’re looking to hire 90 people within the first six to eight months. I think that want to try to have half of that in May because they have to start delivering parts in August from that new facility,” Blackwell said.
There are a couple places on-site, where the dirt is being dug out, that are 40-foot cuts – that’s about four stories, Blackwell said.
“That’s a lot of dirt being dug out and spread out, because not only is it giving us this new campus, it also will give us about 40 acres of new industrial product,” he said.
The new industrial products being prepared won’t be pad site, he added, but will be flat dirt, “which is hard to come by in Oconee County.”