This is an historic and exciting time for Richmond Community College as we move closer to gaining multi-campus status for our facility in Laurinburg. I am reminded that this project involves much more than brick and mortar. It is an expansion that will change people’s lives as we make more resources and more educational opportunities available to the residents of Scotland County. It is also about the visionary leadership and support we’ve received from the county, the Scotland County School System, the state of North Carolina and our board of trustees as we work to expand our footprint in Scotland County.
Expanding our campus in Laurinburg will allow us to tackle head on the job crisis in our region. Right now there are more than 300 open jobs in Scotland County with a majority of them requiring credentials or documented skills. In many cases, these job skills and credentials can be earned through short-term certificates or customized training programs. In 2017, RichmondCC has delivered more than $57,000 in state-funding training to six different Scotland County companies. This training has bolstered the growth of many of these companies and helped them remain competitive in evolving markets.
One of our goals at RichmondCC is to become a “job broker” for the local community.
The space and resources made available through our expanded Laurinburg campus will equip us with the means for closing this skills gap and connecting employers with qualified employees. This expansion comes at an opportune time when skills training and higher education is greatly needed to fill jobs.
Currently, the college owns and operates the Honeycutt Center in downtown Laurinburg and uses space at St. Andrews University to house Scotland Early College High School (SEARCH) and related college courses. The county of Scotland is currently renovating its Morgan Center, directly across the street from the Honeycutt Center. The college will use ConnectNC bond funds to purchase this facility upon completion of the renovations.
The Scotland County Board of Education has voted to relocate SEARCH from St. Andrews to Covington Elementary School in fall 2018. This move will allow St. Andrews the additional space it needs as it grows and will give our SEARCH students more space and academic options. Covington Elementary is directly across the street from the Honeycutt Center. With minor renovations, this building will be well suited to meet our needs for fall 2018.
These two new facilities will add about 45,000 square feet to the campus in Laurinburg. With multi-campus status, we will be required to provide all of the services we offer at our main campus in Hamlet. These services include:
— Financial aid
— Library and research
— Admissions and records services
By expanding our services in Laurinburg, we will save our Scotland County students time and money traveling to main campus for specific needs that currently cannot be met at the Honeycutt Center. We will also be able to expand our university transfer programs, including the UNCP-Elementary Education program that allows us to grow our own teachers locally. We will also be developing new technical courses in welding and electrical technician and exploring other trade programs.
Richmond Community College currently provides free college classes to 153 Scotland High School students through our Career and College Promise dual enrollment program. Additional space will allow us to provide more options for more students to take free college classes while in high school, therefore providing more high school graduates the opportunity to earn the RichmondCC Guarantee of two free years of college, which amounts to a huge savings (tens of thousands of dollars) for Scotland County families. Students who take advantage of the RichmondCC Guarantee put themselves on the path to a four-year degree or a lifelong career with little to no college debt.
The bottom line is RichmondCC is YOUR community college. It is here to serve the wonderful people of Scotland County and be an educational partner and resource for local companies and businesses. We are proud to work with our educational partners in Scotland County, and we are proud to work hand in hand with county and city officials in making great things happen in Scotland County.
Dale McInnis, president of Richmond Community College, wrote this week’s Focus on Scotland, an effort by community leaders on making Laurinburg/Scotland County a better place to work, live, and play.