Officials with Sampson Community College have identified some of the improvements and facility needs that need to be addressed on the local campus, which will be funded through the Connect NC Public Improvement Bond.
During a Board of Trustees meeting earlier this week, Dr. Bill Starling, vice president of academic affairs and administration, informed school administration and board members that the college could receive grant support to assist with the construction of a welding and metal fabrication facility.
In March 2016, the $2 billion bond passed, and includes $4,774,533 for new construction, repairs and renovations at Sampson Community College.
“This is a huge opportunity for the college to make important changes to the physical plant to move us forward into the future,” Hutchins said during an interview following the passing of the bond.
As part of the $2 billion bond, $980 million will be invested into the state’s 17 universities. The vast majority of these improvements will build facilities that will improve teaching and research in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. Additionally, $350 million will go to the state’s 58 community colleges, including Sampson, primarily for new construction, repairs and renovations on the 58 campuses.
According to Starling, he and Lisa Turlington, SCC Foundation director, attended a regional economic development meeting and met with regional and state representatives to discuss possible Economic Development Administration grant support for the college’s capital expansion.
“Traditional EDA grants provide matching funds on a dollar-for-dollar basis to support public projects that contributed to the economic growth of a region,” Starling shared.
During the meeting, Starling said he and Turlington learned that the welding and metal fabrication facility project could qualify for up to 80 percent funding under special provisions for areas, like Sampson, that were affected by Hurricane Matthew.
“If successful, NC Connect Bond funds originally identified for the welding facility could be recommitted to other capital needs,” Starling said.
If awarded grant support, Starling explained that leftover funds could be utilized to build a truck driving facility if an application specifically for the project was submitted to the EDA in the next fiscal year. NC Connect Bond funds would be used to match EDA funds.
The proposed cost of the welding and metal fabrication facility is $2.3 million. If the grant is approved, the $1.75 million saved would be utilized in other areas at the college.
“This grant could free up bond money for other projects we are planning for,” Turlington said.
In an outline of possible mechanisms to leverage needed funds for build a truck driving facility, Starling indicated that a subsequent application specifically for truck driving could be submitted to EDA in the next fiscal year using the saved NCConnect funds to match additional EDA funds.
In assessing possibilities for funding, Turlington indicated that regional and state representatives for EDA have been very encouraging.
“We have received verbal assurances that our initial proposal will be approved inviting a full grant application,” Turlington said. “This is all going to happen fairly quickly, as the requested funds are part of this federal fiscal year ending in September.”
Starling shared with the board that Sampson County economic developer John Swope is on board and has assisted in making the proposal.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.