GTCC plans new campus near airport

GREENSBORO - GTCC is poised to buy 97 acres in northwest Guilford County to build a major campus.

College officials said the site, a farm two miles from Piedmont Triad International Airport, is an ideal location to expand the community college's transportation and aviation courses and to build a business and industry training center in an area of extensive development.

"You will see, there is a tremendous need for training in this area," GTCC President Don Cameron said Wednesday.

The college will spend about $19 million from a 2004 bond to buy the land and pay for the first building - the training center. That could be official by January.

GTCC leaders hope to ask for another $46 million in a May 2008 referendum to complete the rest of the proposed campus, college officials said Wednesday.

College officials went before the Greensboro planning board Wednesday to have the land rezoned, one of many municipal and county approvals needed.

The college's main campus is in Jamestown, with additional locations in High Point, in Greensboro and at PTI.

The college has been gradually expanding over the years, opening a 67-acre campus on East Wendover Avenue in 2005 and adding two buildings on separate campuses this year.

College officials searched in the northwest for several years before they identified the 97-acre tract along N.C. 68 south of Oak Ridge.

With companies such as Honda Aircraft and FedEx moving into the area by 2009, GTCC officials said they will expand their courses to help train future employees in those fields.

"We need the added capability at GTCC to support the economic growth," said Patrick Danahy, president of the Greensboro Partnership and a GTCC trustee.

Danahy said those industries will be the Triad's economic backbone for the next 25 years.

The northwest campus could ultimately hold as many as 14 buildings and thousands of parking spaces. College officials expect to start the campus with the business and industry training center. It will be used by area companies for employee training.

The land, owned by Keith Peeples, is mostly undeveloped and used as pasture for cattle.

The development plans have some neighbors concerned, including Barbara Sumner, who attended the planning board hearing.

She voiced her concerns about the loss of open space in Guilford County.

Her backyard will overlook the new campus.

"We are absolutely devastated by the changes to our neighborhood that seem inevitable," she said.

Cameron promised that the college would be a good neighbor. He said the college would provide buffers to the nearby homes.

Contact Amanda Lehmert at amanda.lehmert@ or 373-7075

* The college's new branch will cater to assisting job training to industries such as FedEx and Honda Aircraft.