Gov. Nathan Deal arrived in Hall County on Thursday to ask the community to support a $5 million fundraising campaign for the purchase of classroom supplies, furnishings and other materials for the new Lanier Technical College campus.
The nearly $140 million in state financing allocated already “does not include all of the things that it’s going to take to get this campus up and running,” Deal said during an announcement at the new campus located at Ga. 365 and Howard Road in northeast Hall County.
Deal added that local private contributions would fill what’s not available in a “typical” public bond financing package for the project and ensure the school meets its target of opening at the new campus for classes in January 2019.
Lanier Tech’s new campus
The new campus in North Hall will include a 40,000-square-foot conference center with a 20,000-square-foot ballroom that will seat 750 “banquet style” and 1,500 people “theater style” when it opens next year.
The six buildings — including an economic development and campus support building, instructional building, and an administration building and student center — will have about 335,000 square feet of space compared to the 180,000 square feet at the current Oakwood campus.
The total acreage of the new campus is more than double the 43 acres at Oakwood.
Lanier Tech's main campus has been located off Mundy Mill Road since the 1970s, with classes first beginning in 1966 and held in local schools, churches and civic buildings, according to its website.
School officials have said the current buildings are outdated and that the new location is optimal for growing enrollment.
Deal has designs on making Lanier Tech the truly first and model campus of technical schools across Georgia.
The state has supported a roughly $3 million investment in advertising for technical and trade schools in recent years.
And Lanier Tech President Ray Perren said the campus would lead to a surge in enrollment, expanded curriculum and a geographically wider student population more diverse in race and age.
A major challenge moving forward will be the physical relocation of materials to the new campus in northeast Hall County.
The announcement of a new fundraising initiative, which is likely to target individuals and businesses that can benefit from the educational development and job training Lanier Tech brings to the region, was timed about a year after breaking ground and a year before cutting the red ribbon.
“We’re celebrating halftime,” Lanier Tech President Ray Perren said.
Perren told The Times that now is an opportunity to generate excitement and help brand the school going forward.
Deal said the contributions would support students like Haylie Bailey, a 26-year-old single mother who spoke at Thursday’s announcement.
Bailey dropped out of school with an eighth-grade education to support a sick brother and her family.
She never went back, but when she later became a mother, Bailey began to set her sights on earning a GED.
With that goal now complete, Bailey is working toward a degree in early childhood development.
“I now have options I never knew I had before,” she said.