In congratulating Ogeechee Technical College President Dr. Dawn Cartee on breaking ground Thursday for the school's new Health Science building, Gov. Sonny Perdue gave his theory behind OTC's success.
"Dr. Dawn, I love your mission here providing education with purpose," Perdue said. "That's the essence behind technical college education. That's why you're here. That's why your students are here ... You came here really to be trained to go to work. We understand that and the school understands that."
Gov. Perdue and Cartee were joined by Ron Jackson, commissioner of the Technical College System of Georgia, State Sen. Jack Hill and other state and local officials at the groundbreaking on the OTC campus.
The 25,000-square-foot structure became a reality in 2009 when Perdue included the project in the Fiscal Year 2010 budget. The project will expand the OTC Health Sciences facilities to more than 58,000 square feet.
"It is important for this state and this community that our technical colleges have the most up-to-date, high tech training facilities and equipment for these wonderful students," Jackson said. "The new Health Science building will improve the training these students receive that is critical to the good health and well being of this community."
Even though the current Health Science building was constructed in 2000, the need quickly outgrew the building and some health programs are still being housed in OTC's original Joseph E. Kennedy building, Cartee said.
The expansion, which is estimated to cost around $6 million, will accommodate about 500 students, and will allow for future growth, she said.
Planning and design is well underway and actual construction will begin in 2011. Students will be able to use the expansion by 2012.
"When the health building was constructed, our Radiologic Technology program remained in the Kennedy building because of the extensive cost of moving x-ray and associated equipment," Cartee said. "But having added numerous imaging science programs, and with needing space for newer, more modern radiology related equipment, this expansion will answer some of our greatest facility needs."
The school's Imaging Science programs, as well as other health programs, will be moved when the expansion is complete, she said.
"We are always looking to meet the needs of our medical community by supplying a qualified work force," she said.
The vacated space in the Kennedy Building will be used for the college's Early Childhood Care and Education program which is now housed in the Kennedy annex, she said.
Enrollment, which was 1,900 for the Fall 2008 Quarter, has boomed to 3,000 for the Fall 2010 Quarter and has created a need for the expansion, Cartee said.
The expansion will help the local economy as well as the college, Cartee said.
"The financial impact of this project will be felt locally as materials are purchased, and people are put to work building the addition. The long-term benefit will be in the number of highly trained graduates we will be able to turn out."
Sen. Jack Hill, with support from state Representatives Bob Lane, Butch Parrish, and Jon Burns, was a driving force behind the expansion, she said.
"Ogeechee Technical College is a vital component of our local economy," Hill said. "A trained work force is a major attraction for industry and business, and providing the means for the college to continue to grow and prosper is important to our region."