05/21/19 – CCC&TI expanding to former drug store

Posted on: May 24th, 2019 by admin


May 21, 2019


By: Garrett Stell



Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute has purchased a building on U.S. 321 that once was a drug store to house the college’s new training center for advanced manufacturing, machining and engineering programs.


The State Board of Community Colleges authorized the purchase on Friday.


CCC&TI President Dr. Mark Poarch said that the college previously had tried to buy the building, which is at the northeast corner of Pine Mountain Road and U.S. 321 next to the college’s current truck driver training campus, but was outmatched by another bidder. In the past week, that other party backed out of the deal and the college was able to make the purchase.


The building formerly was a Rite Aid but has been vacant since shortly after Walgreens bought more than 1,900 Rite Aid stores last year. Walgreens already had a store at the southeast corner of the same intersection.


The building is about 13,600 square feet, and Poarch said the college will install a simulated factory floor, computer lab, classrooms and faculty office space.


The college began developing its plan for a new advanced manufacturing center last year, when grants started coming in from the Golden LEAF Foundation and Canon Charitable Interests, both of which provide grants to support economic development in North Carolina, for new machinery and building renovations.


Much like the college’s Furniture Factory Lab, which was unveiled last month, the new-look manufacturing center is part of the college’s ongoing effort to improve workforce development in the county, said Randy Ledford, the college’s vice president of instruction.


“You would be hard-pressed to find a company in Caldwell County that doesn’t have a need for machining or mechanical engineering,” Ledford said.


The new training center will also create opportunities for more partnerships with the Caldwell County Schools, Ledford said. Because many factories have age restrictions on who can visit the factory floor, it can be hard for younger students to gain exposure to the types of jobs that are prevalent in the county.


Poarch said that the training center was originally going to be put into the J Building on the college’s main campus, but the opportunities afforded by the new property are much better.


“The proximity to 321 is key,” Poarch said. “It will offer high visibility to these programs and help create interest in high-demand jobs in Caldwell County.”


Poarch said that sparking interest in younger students will help build the workforce, and changing the perception of manufacturing jobs remains a staple of the college’s mission.


“It is imperative to portray advanced manufacturing as it actually is: modern, clean, and advanced, with high pay and growth opportunities,” he said.


Poarch hopes that the college can visit the property with an architect in the coming weeks and close the purchase sometime during the summer. If renovations can start immediately afterward, classes might begin in the new building by the start of the spring 2020 semester.

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