Tri-County Technical College will welcome 200 students to its new campus in Westminster this fall. The Oconee County campus is in the Oconee Industry and Technology Park on S.C. Highway 11 and will provide education and training programs tailored to manufacturing.
The $5.5 million, 37,000-square-foot school also is the first step in the county’s plan for the industrial park to include options in education, training and employment. The Hamilton Career Center is relocating to the Oconee Industry and Technology Park, with plans to open in 2020.
“Ultimately you will literally have a situation where high school students can walk across the sidewalk to Tri-County Tech, then across the parking lot to a manufacturer,” said Janet Hartman, interim executive director of the Oconee Economic Alliance. “It’s exciting for us because it really brings that training very close to home. Now our students don’t have to drive to the Pendleton campus and they can be very close to our manufacturers.”
Ground was broken for the Tri-County Tech campus last year. A ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for Aug. 17 at 11 a.m. and is open to the public.
“Having a campus in Oconee County brings us full circle. We now have a campus in each county in our service area — Oconee, Pickens and Anderson,” said Rebecca Eidson, spokeswoman for Tri-County Tech. “We are so pleased to now be able to give the citizens of Oconee County the option to get an education from Tri-County close to home. The campus is centrally located between Seneca, Westminster and Walhalla.”
Eidson said the Oconee County campus is an example of what can be accomplished when community partners work together.
“We did our homework, brought our partners to the table, and figured out exactly what we needed to do to support local manufacturing. Then we built the facility to make it happen,” she said. “Our local industry leaders were involved from the very beginning. This campus embodies their collective vision for what Oconee County needs to prepare its citizens to fill jobs in advanced manufacturing.”
Eidson and Hartman said the campus will help attract new manufacturing companies to the Oconee Industry and Technology Park.
“Think about it. The manufacturers can have interns and apprentices within walking distance of their plant. They can be directly involved in preparing their future workforce,” Eidson said.
Eidson said the addition of the career center in a couple of years will create a unique situation. Hartman referred to it as providing a true pipeline of skilled workers.
“It obviously is a differentiator for us,” Hartman said. “A number of places have the curriculum set up to go from a career center into a technical college. But the fact we will have it all inside an industrial park makes us different. No one is doing that in the southeast, if in the country.”