Augusta Technical College officials will break ground Friday on Columbia County's newest institution of higher learning.
The groundbreaking ceremony will be at 1 p.m. Friday for the college's $6.3 million Columbia County campus on Horizon West Parkway, just outside Grovetown.
The 22,000-square-foot facility will be the college's fourth campus. The main facility is in Augusta and existing satellite campuses are located in Thomson and Waynesboro.
Twenty-one percent of students at the Augusta main campus are from Columbia County, said Terry Elam, the school's president.
"It is really for convenience more than anything else," Elam said, adding that satellite campuses often serve those who have fewer resources and are unable to drive to the main facility.
The Columbia County Center will be able to serve about 500 students and will be built in "pods" to accommodate future expansion, Elam said. The facility will have five general purpose classrooms, two 30-station computer labs, two multi-purpose industrial labs and a meeting room.
The campus is one that can attract new business and industry to the county, said Zack Daffin, the executive director of the Columbia County Development Authority.
"I'm excited to brag on the fact that our technical college, a state campus, is located so close," Daffin said. "We will continue to use the technical school as a selling point for us in our efforts to attract new businesses."
Daffin said the campus will be a beautiful facility and will lead to positive growth in the county.
The state-funded project, on land donated by the county, has been in the planning stages for several years as officials have established funding and worked with state agencies to finalize plans for a 1,100-foot entrance road.
Elam said he hopes to see construction begin within the next two months. Construction is estimated to last 12-18 months.
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