• For more information on the Dawson campus of Lanier Technical College, call (706) 216-5461.
• For more information on enrollment or financial aid, call (770) 535-6906 or (770)781-6801.
Community leaders will gather Thursday morning to celebrate the new Lanier Technical College facility in downtown Dawsonville.
After 10 months of construction, the college completed the $5 million expansion project in August and will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony for it at 10 a.m.
Located beside the Adult Learning Center, the building more than doubles the college's educational space at its Dawson campus.
Board member Roger Slaton, who's also a member of the Dawson County Board of Education, said the expansion is "close and dear" to his heart.
"This was a dream of mine and many other peoples, so I am just on cloud nine," he said. "I can't wait to see the ribbon cut so we can move forward and go to work."
According to Tim McDonald, dean of the Dawson campus, programs have been shifting to the new building this semester, which started in mid-August.
"About 80 percent of the classes and equipment is transitioned and by next week we'll be fully transitioned," he said Monday.
McDonald said staff, faculty and students are enjoying the new facility. Currently more than 150 students are enrolled at the campus.
"We are excited to be here in the community. We're excited that we are able to offer a larger facility with some expanded services," he said.
The Dawson campus, which welcomed its first students in October 2005, was previously housed in a building owned by the local school board.
The expansion project broke ground in September 2011 and has had few delays. Rain and an incident of vandalism had a minimal impact on construction, according to officials.
McDonald said the new facility allows the college to offer better space and equipment to specific academic programs.
"The building is wonderfully laid out and we have big, spacious classrooms with great resources and equipment for our students and faculty," Slaton said.
The automotive technology program is the most popular, drawing nearly 40 students. It is exclusive to the Dawson campus.
The high school dual-enrollment program is also growing in popularity. McDonald noted the Dawson campus has about 39 students from Dawson County, Lumpkin County and North Forsyth high schools.
According to recent graduation rates, there has been a rise in the number of high school students with dual enrollment at Lanier Tech's five campuses, which also include Oakwood, Forsyth County, Jackson County and Winder-Barrow.
Programs offered at the new Dawson campus will include medical assistant, certified nursing assistant, business administration, welding and cosmetology.
Along with the automotive program, the electrical systems technology program is exclusive to the campus.
"The facility features state-of-the-art laboratories, including two medical-related labs, and we are now able to offer compatible services, including wireless Internet and an expanded library," McDonald said.
He invites the public to check out the campus next week.
"Beginning Sept. 24, the public is welcome to visit our facility and talk to us about our new expanded amenities," he said.
The deadline to enroll for the next semester is the first week of November.
"We are currently accepting applications for the spring semester," McDonald said. "We encourage students to start the process early, including seeking financial aid."
Slaton said he is excited for the future of the college.
"This is a proud moment for Dawson County, the local school system and Lanier Technical College," he said.