The local impact of a growing school such as Valdosta Technical College might not be apparent to some residents.

While many Valdosta State University graduates come from other areas and return home after graduation, Val Tech is training increasing numbers of students who are natives of South Georgia and likely to be permanent local residents. This is highly important to increase the skill level for the local workforce and create new career opportunities for them.

The fall quarter starts Monday, and enrollment is expected to be 10 to 15 higher than last fall, which was between 5 and 7 percent higher than the previous fall.

Such consistent growth reflects well on the institution. It tells employers that students believe a Val Tech education means something -- that it can be a ticket to a good job.

Val Tech provides an opportunity for higher education to students who might not be able to live away from home or must maintain a part-time job.

President James Bridges expects about 2,800 diploma, degree and certificate students this quarter -- that's more than many colleges in the state. The other benefit to the greater Lowndes area is the growth in jobs for faculty and staff who are teaching these students.

The college also received news that a proposal for a new building and expansion are second on a list of priorities for the state Department of Technical and Adult Education. If the Legislature funds only two projects, Val Tech will get its project.

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