Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Gwinnett Technical College health care student Christal Lee of Monroe works on her mathematical statistics homework in a computer lab at Gwinnett Technical College in Lawrenceville on Wednesday.
LAWRENCEVILLE -- Although Gwinnett Technical College and Georgia Gwinnett College officials won't celebrate until Gov. Nathan Deal signs off on the $39 billion state budget, they were excited to find support from legislators for major projects for each.
The Legislature agreed Tuesday on a budget including $25 million for an allied health building at the growing Lawrenceville campus of Georgia Gwinnett and $25 million to expand Gwinnett Tech's offerings into northern Fulton County.
"It's been a good year for higher education funding," said Gwinnett Tech President Sharon Bartels, pointing out that the effort matches legislators' goal of economic development. "It's the quickest way to grow jobs."
The technical college's sphere of influence expanded into Fulton in 2010, with officials working with area employers to provide training, Bartels said.
In the past year, Bartels has worked with leaders to find a suitable space to buy, renovate and offer classes, a cheaper option than building a new campus from scratch. If the governor approves the funding, she said the final location could be chosen quickly and classes could be offered as quickly as renovations allow.
"We'll have to look at what will meet the needs of the adult students most," she said, adding that the area is suited for Gwinnett Tech's health and life sciences programs, as well as computer information systems and business and finance.
Georgia Gwinnett officials are also hoping for a quick start to construction on its promised allied health facility, if the governor and Board of Regents give the go-ahead.
The facility, which will tie into the growth caused by the recent completion of a laboratory building, could carry the young college to an enrollment of up to 12,000 students.
"It will help us with our mission and our growth," said Eddie Beauchamp, vice president of facilities and operations.
The project -- a total of $31.5 million spread over three years -- would get its construction dollars in the state budget, allowing work to begin as early as October. If all goes well, Beauchamp said the 90,000-square-foot building could be ready for classes in January 2014.
"We very much appreciate the support we have received from the chancellor, the Board of Regents, and the General Assembly for our Allied Health and Science Building," said GGC President Daniel J. Kaufman. "However, nothing is final until the governor signs the budget, so we shall be patient until the governor makes his final decision."
This week, commissioners signed off on a bond package that will fund new athletic facilities at the college.
Beauchamp said the plans for soccer, baseball and softball fields as well as an athletic building and the purchase of a nearby tennis center are expected to cost about $15 million, although the county approved $21 million in financing.
Officials said the county would not have any liability in the payment of the bonds. Instead, they are backed by the college's foundation and will be paid for with student fees.
With an aggressive construction schedule, Beauchamp said officials hope to have the soccer field completed by the fall season, when the college begins its first play in intercollegiate athletics.