VALDOSTA -- Valdosta Technical College officials have major plans in the works to expand existing programs and add a few new ones.

A couple of weeks ago, the college purchased 20 acres of land, located just off Shiloh Road, for $1 million.

Now they are waiting for state legislators to grant them the funds needed to complete the $16-plus million project.

"At this point we are one of the top three projects on the state's priority funding list for next year," said James Bridges, president. "We should have the funds needed to go ahead with the project this time next year."

Bridges said he plans to build a 90,000-square-foot, two-story facility on the newly-acquired property.

This building will house the college's new library, a conference center, and a video development center for online classes and power point presentations.

"We definitely need the video development center," Bridges said. "We have 200 students taking online courses and the program continues to grow by leaps and bounds."

The new facility will also house several new programs Bridges hopes to add over the next couple of years, including food service, medical transcription, legal secretary, and warehouse distribution.

A few existing programs will be relocated to the new building as well, including, marketing, computer information systems, medical laboratory technology, and truck driving.

"All of this is the result of a continued increase in enrollment," Bridges said. "The rate of escalating growth we are experiencing is just fantastic."

The multi-million dollar project will include a renovation of Building 300 and expansion of the admissions office, evening division, developmental studies program, the bookstore, testing center, and student center.

"We will be getting these people the additional space they have needed for a long time," Bridges said. "We are really short of office space right now."

"We have just needed so much for so long," Bridges added. Once the construction phase is completed, Bridges said the expansion will create much-needed employment opportunities.

"We will be hiring for several new faculty and staff positions," Bridges said.

Bridges said he hopes the project will be completed by late 2004 or early 2005.

To contact reporter Jessica Pope, please call 244-3400, ext. 255.

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