GTCC seeks $75 million for new site

GREENSBORO - A local community college wants to build a campus that trains workers for jobs with FedEx, HondaJet and other transportation and aviation companies.

GTCC's Northwest Campus could include five to seven buildings near Piedmont Triad International Airport, President Don Cameron said Wednesday. He declined to disclose the exact location because the land deal is not finished.

To pay for that project and others, GTCC wants county commissioners to place a $75 million bond referendum on the Nov. 6 ballot. Commissioners could start that process June 21.

The college's plans come as business developers expect more aviation, transportation and logistics companies to set up shop around the airport. The region's labor force, still smarting from thousands of job losses in the textile and furniture industries, needs to be properly trained for this new wave of jobs, business developers say.

"I'm not going to put the college in the position of saying we can't meet the needs of business and industry for the people of Guilford County," Cameron said.

The campus would include a training center, classroom buildings for transportation and aviation programs and a truck driver training track. When asked about detailed plans of the site, Cameron said, "We have really not put that together yet."

If commissioners put GTCC's plans on the bond referendum, they'll have company. The school system wants $440 million for construction projects, a $105 million jail has been proposed, and a parks bond has been discussed.

Commissioners Chairman Paul Gibson said it was possible that such a long list could turn off voters. Greensboro voters turned down six of 11 bond items last fall.

Still, Gibson said, the voters should have a say on the GTCC projects.

"Let the folks decide," he said.

GTCC projects have wooed voters before. In 2004, 63 percent of voters approved a $47 million referendum that included new buildings, technology upgrades and classroom renovations.

And a study of PTI released from a UNC-Chapel Hill professor Tuesday recommended creating a "state-of-the-art education and training center," as well as more logistics curricula at local colleges.

"Logistics" includes trucking, air and rail transport, and the software and distribution services that help move goods from suppliers to manufacturers and then on to customers.

"What better backup data do we have to support our bond referendum than this?" Cameron said.

Other GTCC bond items:

l $6 million for an aviation classroom building. Cameron declined to comment on where the building would stand. GTCC already operates an aviation technology school at the airport. The money would be combined with $3.1 million in state bond money.

l $12 million for a parking deck at the college's Jamestown campus. Parking is a concern for students, GTCC officials say, but watershed restrictions limit the amount of land the college can pave. A deck adds more parking spaces and preserves land for more classrooms.

l $9 million for building renovations. This includes repairs to heating and cooling systems and updating classrooms.

l $2 million for land acquisition. Buying property near the campuses will allow the college to expand.

Cameron said college officials have already set up meetings to discuss raising money for an advertising campaign, but no specific plans are in place.

Contact Nate DeGraff at 373-7024 or ndegraff

* The college is asking the county to put a bond on the Nov. 6 ballot to create a campus specializing in job training.