It’s been one big step after another over the last three-plus years as work to develop a new Lanier Technical College campus in North Hall has progressed.
First, there was the acquiring of state funding for the $131 million campus and securing 95 acres off Howard Road at Ga. 365. Then came construction of six buildings with a combined 335,000 square feet, compared to the 180,000 square feet on 43 acres at the old campus. There were additional private fundraising campaigns, ribbon-cutting ceremonies and visits from government and educational leaders.
But now comes the challenge of actually moving stuff.
The physical relocation of classroom materials, school maintenance supplies and heavy equipment, a process Lanier Tech officials described as moving swiftly since beginning on Nov. 26, should be complete soon.
“We’ve been working for the past year to prepare for this move,” said Dr. Ray Perren, Lanier Tech president.
That planning has included what resources to cull after 54 years on the Oakwood campus.
Perren said Lanier Tech has also been working closely with the University of North Georgia, which plans to utilize some of the building space being vacated, to determine “what is useful to them.”
UNG has already budgeted $3 million for the initial planning and design phase to convert this space for disciplines such as geospatial sciences, film and digital media, nursing, visual arts and the office of information technology.
UNG officials have said they hope to have the Lanier Tech space occupied by August 2019, and the acquisition also provides an additional 600 parking spaces.
At Lanier Tech, some of the lighter stuff, which could be packed in boxes, for instance, was moved early in the week.
On Thursday, Nov. 29, however, heavy rigs were brought in to load and move robotics and welding equipment.
Perren said Lanier Tech has worked with the state to contract moving some of the heavy materials, building machines and specialized equipment.
Moving the last heavy-duty items was delayed until after students finished final exams on Wednesday.
“We didn’t want to do anything to impact our students,” Perren said.
The new campus became the official home of administrators and business offices on Dec. 3, Perren said, while the college will be operating in full by Jan. 9.
Lanier Tech will host 2,700-plus students when it opens for classes on Jan. 22.
The college will include a wide variety of programs, including allied health, continuing education, ammonia refrigeration, general education, business, computer science, adult education, early childhood education, motorsports, welding, diesel technology and fire science.
Among the new buildings is a 40,000-square-foot conference center with a 20,000-square-foot ballroom that can comfortably house 750 people.
“The big (challenge) now,” Perren said, “is it’s one thing to physically move, but another getting organized, putting everything in place.”