Greater convenience to higher education and workforce training - all in a state-of-the-art facility - is just around the corner for residents here, with ground broken recently for a new Columbia State Community College campus.
Around $6.5 million in state funding cleared the way for the college to purchase property in Franklin, where the campus will be located. Nearly completed, the new campus replaces the outmoded, over-capacity facility that has served residents for more than 30 years, and will offer the chance to complete two-year, certificate training and eventually four-year studies all here at home, says Bethany Lay, executive for advancement at Columbia State.
Substantial Economic Impact
“It’s going to mean a great deal to the community in many different ways,” Lay says. “The economic impact will be immediate, just because of the project’s size and construction budget. A longer-term economic impact will be the college’s payroll, and what the students spend in and around the area when they are coming to and from class.”
Columbia State’s many programs already support workforce development in the county, and with an expanded campus and more courses, that will only increase, Lay predicts.
Campus as Business-Recruiting Tool
“We will be able to sustain and assist existing industry, and be ready to offer education and training to new ones that come into the county,” Lay says. “We think that’s one way we can serve as a strong recruiting tool for the county. When officials are here on site tours, a huge quality of life and workforce incentive will be a stop on our campus.”
Williamson County takes justifiable pride in its K-12 education system, and the new campus will allow those students to complete the education spectrum. Existing agreements with nearby four-year colleges already allow for credit transfer, and the plan is to eventually house some of their programs on campus so that Columbia State students can receive a four-year degree without transferring.
Four-Year Degree Options Planned
“Our articulation agreements will expand as we build out the campus,” Lay says. “We envision a day when someone can achieve a four-year degree without ever leaving Williamson County. Our participation in the Tennessee Pathways program also helps those who receive a two-year degree and then want to transfer.”
Other beneficiaries of the campus will be nontraditional students, such as adults going back to school, or those who want to take classes that count only for the knowledge or skills earned to improve quality of life.
“We are excited for the community and for our students,” Lay says. “From the classes to the arts and culture opportunities, there will be aspects of the campus for everyone in Williamson County to enjoy and benefit from.”
Find out more on education in Franklin.