$29 Million for Campuses in Glynn and Camden
Governor's budget has $29 million for technical campuses in Glynn, Camden counties
January 17, 2013 11:29 PM EST
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BRUNSWICK - The governor’s spending plan for the 2014 fiscal year includes a combined $29.4 million to build technical college facilities in Glynn and Camden counties.
The $13.5 million for Glynn County replaces money that was in last year’s budget but shifted at the last minute. The $15.93 million for Camden County is a new allocation and meets a long-standing need, officials said.
Both would be part of Jesup-based Altamaha Technical College. The Brunswick facility would be built next to the Golden Isles Career Academy, a Glynn school system vocational program at the county’s industrial park.
The Camden campus would be built at Exit 7 off Interstate 95.
In spite of the news that the Glynn funding is back in the budget, some folks are still wary because of the way a nearly identical item was shifted to DeKalb County last year.
“That’s what we want to hear,’’ said Nathan Sparks, executive director of the Brunswick-Glynn County Development Authority, “but you can’t ever take your eye off the ball.”
In moving the money last year, officials cited environmental issues at Glynn County, but Sparks said then and now, “There were no environmental issues.”
A new technical college campus would meet some crying needs in Camden, said Bert Guy, a board member of the Camden County Chamber of Commerce.
“The future for economic development is to have a technical college to train a skilled workforce,’’ he said.
Guy called it a “great show of confidence by the governor in what we’re doing.”
Perhaps nobody understands the need in Camden more than does Rachel Baldwin, a retired county teacher who works part-time on the school system’s work study program and career technical classes. She also chairs the Chamber of Commerce’s Work Force Development Committee and has been calling for a technical campus in the county for 20 years.
Altamaha Tech now offers a few classes in Camden, welding at the high school, a heating and air class two days a week and a full-service adult literacy program that operates daily, Baldwin said.
It also offers the naval apprenticeship classes for the Trident Refit Facility at Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base.
“That doesn’t give folks much to choose from,’’ Baldwin said.
Camden County High School has 25 career paths for students, but there is no place for them to continue in health care, construction, auto repair and other fields they studied there, Baldwin said.
“Students go to college who are much better suited to get into technical college, get trained and join the skilled work force,’’ she said.
Many of those who try college often don’t complete their education while many could more quickly get certified in technical college for good paying skills, she said.
The new facility is also needed to continue the naval apprenticeship program because many on the Trident Refit Facility’s work force are aging rapidly, Baldwin said.
Those programs should be expanded to aerospace, aviation, maritime and logistics skills as Camden pursues the opening of a space port and with four ports in Florida and Georgia close by, she said.
But just because the funding is in the budget doesn’t mean it will remain as Glynn County learned last year.
“The process just got started this week,’’ Sparks said.
Both Sparks and Guy said local Senate and House members will have to keep pushing for the projects to make the final cut.