NEWBERRY COUNTY — A former Wal-Mart turned college campus welcomed a full lobby of visitors Thursday evening for the Piedmont Technical College’s open house and dedication ceremony of the Newberry campus.
Dr. Ray Brooks, president of Piedmont Technical College, welcomed everyone to the open house which was attended by business and community representatives, faculty and students.
This was not a day off for Piedmont Tech students as classes were ongoing allowing visitors to see learning in action.
“We have a president of the college that leads from the front, Dr. Ray Brooks,” said William Whitfield, chairman of the Piedmont Technical College Commission.
“This is a big plus for Newberry County. Citizens are coming here instead of having to travel (to Greenwood’s main campus),” said Whitfield, a retired educator who has been chairman of the board for four years. “Plus, there is the utilization of an old building.”
Sen. Ronnie Cromer credited the community for making sure a vacant building was not left unused. The new campus was a penny sales tax project.
“I cannot say enough about he citizens of the county who stepped up,” he said. “The great thing is we aren’t leaving another building vacant.”
The old Newberry campus will be used by the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office.
“Your vision with Piedmont Tech has gotten us to where we are today,” said Cromer. “I took a tour earlier today and we have a first-class facility.”
Cromer mentioned the distance learning classes as well as the partnership with the Newberry County School District which add to the benefits of the Newberry campus.
Buddy Livingston, chairman of the Newberry County Council, thanked citizens for their effort and also said how the facility will help with job training that can help employment in the county.
H. Phillip Paradice Jr., regional director with the Economic Development Administration, said the partnership was an important asset.
“You have to have a workforce in place to have growth,” he said. “The partnership is a testament to the quality of the decisions made.
“It’s not just about the bricks, mortar, concrete,” he added. “What the EDA looks at is the quality investment to further education and to gain higher skill sets to be employed.”
Paradice mentioned Sens. Lindsey Graham, Tim Scott, Mick Mulvaney and Jeff Duncan who are supporters of the EDA.
The new campus has been open since Jan. 1 on Wilson Road in the former Wal-Mart building.