Writer: Gordon Jackson
Published September 17, 2020
The Brunswick News
The COVID-19 pandemic led to the cancellation of more than $1.2 million in state funding for the planning and design of a major expansion project at the Brunswick campus of Coastal Pines Technical College.
College provost Lonnie Roberts explained the need for what will be known as the Business & Technical Center, Golden Isles, at Wednesday’s Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce meeting.
Roberts said tentative plans call for a 93,765-square-foot building designed to offer a wide range of high-demand technical job training. Some of the programs were designed after meeting with business leaders to determine their hiring needs.
“It’s a huge building,” he said. “It will help service the needs for the future here.”
New courses that will be on the curriculum include advanced manufacturing, aviation maintenance, computer information systems, electrical construction and maintenance, welding and joining technology and air conditioning.
In addition, Roberts said additional lab space will be available for local companies looking for a place with plenty of room and state-of-art technology to accommodate employers and their workers.
“If there is an industry that needs particular training, they will have the space to hold equipment,” he said.
The new building will cost more than $35 million, and it may take a little longer than initially planned before construction begins, but Roberts expressed confidence funding will be approved. And the campus will still have room to grow, with longterm plans for the construction of three more buildings.
After the presentation, chamber director Ralph Staffins said the biggest goal for the upcoming year is to establish a nonprofit chamber foundation. The work is ongoing with the next step being the creation of bylaws.
Ryan Moore, president and CEO of the Golden Isles Development Authority, said the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government, will be in town on Sept. 30 to begin conducting a workforce study.
“We’re really excited about the process,” Moore said.
The results of the study and a recommended plan will be released early next year, he said.
Scott McQuade, president and CEO of the Golden Isles Convention & Visitors Bureau, gave an update on summer tourism. The good news is the numbers were better than expected with tourism down only 8% compared to last year for the month of June. He said the July numbers from last year to this year should be comparable.
The month of September is trending down about 2% from a year ago, but the outlook after that is not optimistic.
October tourism is expected to be down 30%, and November could see as much as a 50% drop in tourism.