Lanier Technical College held the grand opening of its Forsyth Conference Center & Healthcare Building on Tuesday.
“It was a long time coming but it was well worth waiting for, because they really did a great job with it,” District 27 state Sen. Jack Murphy said after the event.
Murphy, the ceremony’s keynote speaker, is credited with securing the majority of the funding for the $14 million structure.
“The first thing I did [after being elected in 2003] was meet with the governor,” Murphy said. “I kind of started the ball rolling trying to get the money, but believe me there’s a lot of people that’s helping us to get the money…the delegation got right behind me and got behind Lanier Tech.”
The 60,000-square-foot facility will be a huge asset to the Lanier Tech's Forsyth campus as it will provide space for new health care field classes. The opening was also a major milestone for the county, which previously had no events facility.
In addition to providing government meeting space, the facility is open as a venue for proms, weddings, banquets, luncheons, galas, corporate training and other events.
“It’s wonderful to have a facility now in Forsyth County that we can call our own and that all of those events that used to leave the county can now start to flow back in,” said Forsyth County Commission Chairman Charles Laughinghouse.
Dennis Stockton, chairman of the college’s board of directors and Forsyth County News group publisher, said instead of tax dollars shifting outside Forsyth, money will now stay within the county.
“Out of all the projects I’ve worked on and been a part of, this has probably been one of the best,” Stockton said. “I’m very proud of this building.”
Lanier Tech opened its first satellite campus in 1998 in Forsyth County and has since opened campuses in Hall, Barrow, Jackson and Dawson counties, said Russell Vandiver, college president.
Including its main campus in Oakwood, “we touched the lives of over 30,000 folks in northeast Georgia,” he said.
Former Lanier Tech president Michael Moye, who now serves as president of Central Georgia Technical College, also spoke during the ceremony.
He thanked those that worked with him to make the building possible and looked toward the future.
“My message to the Forsyth County folks in this room is that you really need to stand behind Russell as he grows this college, as he grows the workforce that we so desperately need in northeast Georgia,” Moye said.
While the center boasts a 14,000 square-foot event room and an additional board room and conference room, the second floor houses about 14 classrooms equipped for health care students.
Northside Hospital-Forsyth Administrator Lynn Jackson, who also serves on the college's board, called the facility a great way to train people for health care careers.
“It gives students a career that will last them a lifetime,” Jackson said. “This will be the stepping stone into getting them employed, and usually employed very quickly in good paying jobs with benefits. They can support themselves, their families and then if they are encouraged to go onto other careers, it’ll be perfect for them to do so."
Ron Jackson, commissioner of the Technical College System of Georgia, said the facility will further promote the college as a viable option.
“Any time you open a facility and cut a ribbon in a community, it’s a great day for that community and it means you have worked incredibly hard to make it happen,” he said.