Governor celebrates grand opening of Barrow County campus

Image Credit Jessica Brown

Photo by Jessica Brown

WINDER, GA — State and local officials joined hundreds of local residents on June 1 to celebrate the grand opening of the new Barrow Campus of Lanier Technical College.

Special guests included Gov. Nathan Deal and his wife, Sandra. It was at the Governor’s direction that $16 million in state bond funding was earmarked in 2012 for the construction of the 67,000-square-foot facility. The state since has spent an additional $2 million to furnish and equip the building.

In his remarks, Gov. Deal said the training of Georgia’s workforce is one of his top priorities as governor. He stressed the vital role of the Technical College System of Georgia in meeting companies’ needs for trained workers.

The need is so great right now that the state is covering 100 percent of technical college tuition for qualified students in several strategic industries such as Welding and Joining, Health Sciences and Computer Technology, the Governor said.

Other special guests at the grand opening included Dr. Ray Perren, president of Lanier Technical College, and Gretchen Corbin, commissioner of the Technical College System of Georgia.

During the ceremony, the campus dean, Lisa Maloof, and the chairman of the campus board of directors, Allyson Summerour, made a special presentation.

They announced that the college’s new 100-seat multi-purpose room would be named the “Terry England Lecture Hall” in honor of the county’s longtime representative to the Georgia House of Representatives.

“Every community needs a champion, and for the past 11 years, Rep. Terry England has been our champion,” Maloof said, noting that Rep. England requested the money that was approved by the Governor and the legislature.

“All citizens who enjoy this multi-use space in the future will know that this hall honors Rep. Terry England, a faithful public servant who has given so much to Barrow County and Lanier Technical College,” Maloof said.

Rep. England said after the ceremony that while he is honored to have his name on the hall, the credit for the success of Lanier Tech in Barrow County really goes to the entire community.

“It’s their campus, our campus, and I’m just proud to have been a part of making this long-term vision a reality,” he said. “There were so many others just as integral in making it come true.”

Lanier Tech’s original campus in Barrow County was in downtown Winder. City officials in 1998, under the leadership of former Mayor Buddy Ouzts, used city resources and labor to set up the first classrooms. A year later, local voters approved a $1 million Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for additional space in order to expand course offerings. The Technical College System of Georgia funded two full-time instructors, the Barrow County Board of Education paid the salary of a campus director, and the Barrow County Joint Development Authority provided funding to hire support staff.

The college remained downtown for more than a decade but eventually outgrew the space. In 2012 the Barrow County Board of Education donated to Lanier Tech 20 acres of farmland for the new campus off Austin Road, and the state approved the construction funding.

The groundbreaking for the campus was June 25, 2013. The doors opened to the first students at the beginning of this year as the finishing touches still were being made to the building. Monday’s grand opening was the culmination of those many years of community effort.

“Things like this happen when we come together and nobody cares who gets credit for it,” Rep. England said. “Everybody just wanted to make it happen.”

The new campus is at 965 Austin Road. It is off Highway 53 just south of Highway 316. The campus houses massive labs for Building Automation Systems, Automotive Technology, Welding and Mechatronics; two large labs for health care training, and plenty of classroom space for programs in accounting and business management or traditional academic degrees. For more information, go to the college’s website at www.laniertech.edu.