• Housed on 30,000 square feet inside the Whitfield Career Academy, a career-oriented charter school
• Expected to register 250 students for the fall semester that starts Aug. 22
• Will offer business management, computer information systems-computer support specialist, criminal justice technology, industrial systems technology and technical specialist programs.
• Has 10 instructors and 14 classrooms/labs
Source: Georgia Northwestern Technical College
DALTON, Ga. -- Georgia Northwestern Technical College on Friday celebrated the grand opening of its Whitfield Murray campus, the fifth for the two-year college.
City, county and school officials gathered inside the Whitfield Career Academy, the college's new home, for an official ribbon-cutting ceremony and tours of the 14 classrooms and labs.
The college will offer five occupational programs, including computer information systems and industrial systems technology, designed to meet the needs of business, according to school officials.
"What we heard is that we are not developing the technical skills and abilities needed in the local industry," Whitfield County Schools Chairman Louis Fordham said. "Having the career academy here, that's the primary function of this school, but we felt that what [the businesses] were telling us is that, 'You really don't have the programs.'"
Georgia Northwestern Technical College has a great reputation for providing the type of programs for which communities were looking, he added.
The total cost of the project is $4.2 million, said Georgia Northwestern President Craig McDaniel.
The college received funding from the Technical College System of Georgia, a commitment from the business community for about $1.2 million and moved about $500,000 worth of personnel from the Gordon County and Floyd County campuses to the Whitfield County campus, he said.
College officials anticipate enrolling 250 students this fall semester. So far, 170 students have registered, they said. The official registration days are Thursday and Friday.
The first student to enroll at the Whitfield Murray campus was Brandon Vineyard, 27, who was recognized Friday.
Vineyard signed up for the industrial systems technology program and said he would like to get a job as an electrician when he finishes in 2013 because they are good-paying jobs.
If it wasn't for the opening of this campus, the Murray High School graduate said he would have had to drive close to an hour to the Walker County campus.
Joe Yarbrough, vice president at Mohawk Industries, Inc., said a student who successfully finishes the program shouldn't have a problem finding a job.
"Not only will there be jobs available in the flooring industry in our community, but those skills are applicable to many other things like the automotive industry that's growing around us, [and] other diversified chemical and plastics industries," Yarbrough said.
"So these skills are needed and we will compete for these skills in our companies, but those skills will also be transferable and valuable to manufactory and other types of operations all around the world."
Georgia Northwestern Technical College also is planning to open a campus in Catoosa County, but McDaniel said they still are looking for land.
Earlier this year, the college announced it was terminating or reducing 31 positions, saving about $1.2 million.
But even during difficult budget times, McDaniel said, now is the perfect time to grow, because people need to prepare for when the economy turns around.