SUMMERVILLE – For Dorchester County residents looking to enroll in a technical college, their commute is getting a little easier.
On May 18, Dorchester County hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony for the campus of Trident Technical College in the county.
The full service offering is the province’s very first technical university.
Before this week, Dorchester was one of the largest counties in South Carolina without a technical college. Students would have to commute to the University’s River’s Avenue campus in North Charleston if they wanted to participate.
“This facility will be state-of-the-art,” said County Council Chairman Bill Hearn. “This is the kind you want to see happen.”
The more than $ 2.5 million space is located on Dorchester Road in the Oakbrook area of Summerville, where the old Big Lots store used to be. The campus was funded by Dorchester County, next door to the town of Summerville, which raised $ 200,000, and Trident Technical College, which raised $ 325,000.
The 28,000 square foot campus consists of four classrooms, a computer lab, two HVAC labs, two large science labs, a test center, a student lounge and staff offices.
College officials said the space was all designed to be flexible. All chairs and desks are fitted with wheels so that the layout of the class can be adjusted.
The rooms are also surrounded by whiteboard walls so the layouts can be reworked depending on the class or lecture.
Cathy Almquist, vice president of education for Trident Tech, said the labs and classrooms are spacious enough to meet any social need of six feet apart.
“We wanted this space to be as flexible as possible,” she said.
Laurie Boede is the university’s dean of business technology and also dean of the Dorchester campus. As a resident of Summerville, she said she knows the value of the added location; her commute is now less than 3 miles.
In addition to travel assistance, she said she is also enthusiastic about feeding the workforce in the province. Those employee requirements change daily and new skills are needed, she said.
“We don’t have the labor to do many of the open jobs,” she said.
Hank Taylor, the chairman of the Dorchester County Economic Development Corp., said many of the new jobs coming to the county require technical training.
One of the most recent examples is the Walmart distribution center which is expected to provide 1,000 jobs to the county by April 2022. The heating, ventilation and air conditioning or HVAC curriculum on campus is expected to be valuable.
Because COVID-19 vaccines need proper cold storage, Mary Thornley, the president of Trident Tech, said HVAC workers are needed. The goal is to eventually outgrow the space with added students.
“We want to fill this parking lot,” she said.
The new campus will be full-service, meaning residents will be able to register for classes, apply for financial aid, receive counseling and get tested at the same location.
Registration for classes on the new campus starts on June 1.
To achieve Jerrel Floyd at 843-937-5558. Follow him on Twitter @ jfloyd134.