GAINESVILLE — Lanier Technical College is relocating to property off Ga. 365 at Howard Road north of Gainesville and the new campus is expected to open in fall 2018.
“The opportunity to have a new and redesigned and expanded building is a great asset,” Gov. Nathan Deal told The Times. “It is an acknowledgement that as we bring businesses in, and as we have domestic businesses grow, most of their growth does require those types of technical skills.”
The state will purchase 85.5 acres for about $6.4 million from Gainesville Howard Road LLC.
The State Properties Commission, where Deal serves as chairman of the Governing Board, unanimously voted to approve the deal Wednesday morning.
Lanier Tech's main campus has been located off Mundy Mill Road in Oakwood since the 1970s, with classes first beginning in 1966 and held in local schools, churches and civic buildings, according to its website. The shift to the new campus is not expected to affect or change the location of the Forsyth County campus.
School officials have said the current Oakwood buildings are outdated and that the new location is optimal for growing enrollment.
“It’s almost right in the heart of our service area,” President Ray Perren said. “It gives us an opportunity to … expand and fashion the building to support new programs, courses.”
State officials said the location on Howard Road was chosen because it provides direct access to Ga. 365 and has utilities infrastructure in place. The land has been graded for construction, as well.
Deal said the new location will also benefit from having businesses like Kubota Manufacturing of America nearby in the Gateway Industrial Centre.
“Technical colleges are important for those kind of employers,” he added. “The need for qualified and trained young people … has expanded.”
Deal said he will recommend funding to build the new campus in his budget this January, though no dollar estimate was given.
He said he expects the legislature to support this funding because Hall County is a quickly growing part of the state and a driving force for many economic interests, including job growth and recruiting new businesses.
Deal said he expects the current campus, which is contiguous with the University of North Georgia campus, to be renovated for that school’s needs.
“It’s not like we’re abandoning a building that will not have any future use,” he added.
The relocation of Lanier Tech has widely been seen as a legacy project for Deal, who is in his last term as governor, given that Hall County is his home base.
“I suppose there is some satisfaction to that,” he said.