by: NICOLE TRUGILLO/Editor-in-Chief
South Plains College recently announced plans for a new educational center to expand their course offerings in Lubbock.
The college’s Board of Regents approved the purchase of a 70,000 square foot building for $2 million.
“The building was an old car dealership,” explains Dr. Kelvin Sharp, president of SPC in an interview with the Plainsman Press. “They had built a building on the south Loop, and they were moving out of this location. Their particular interest was for us to expand our certifications for auto technicians. We currently teach our students how to become a certified technician. But if you’re going to work on a Ford, Chevrolet, or Dodge, you have to be industry-certified, and that’s another level of training.”
Dr. Sharp continues, “We initially started this discussion with Group One, who owned the building. We could use it and expand to give them employees that they need, and in lieu of us being to be able to do that, they discounted the building to get into it. The building itself is valued at $3.9 million.”
The total cost of the building, which is located at 3907 Avenue Q, is going to be $12 million, which will make it a state-of-the-art center and will cover the cost of repairing the structure.
Dr. Sharp says four partners so far have been involved with purchasing the building.
“Group One Auto, who helped us with the building and the property,” says Dr. Sharp. “We had the Helen Jones Foundation, which pledged $4 million for the renovation, and the CH Foundation, which pledged $3 million toward the renovation. We also had the Lubbock Economic Development Alliance (LEDA), which pledged $2.9 million, and theirs is for program expansion, program development, furnishings, and equipment. We think the $7 million will renovate the building, but we know when we go in there we’re going to need furniture and computers. They said use their money to equip it.”
SPC’s initial plan is to move the faculty and students from the Byron Martin Advanced Technology Center, which is owned by the Lubbock School District, to what will be called the South Plains College Lubbock Center.
“The programs we have at the Byron Martin Technology Center are in 36,000 square feet, and the South Plains College Lubbock Center is 70,000 square feet,” Dr. Sharp explains. “Our initial plan is to take the programs we have at the BMATC and go over into this building and modify about 4,500 square feet, and give them a little more and put them in the building.”
Dr. Sharp explains that SPC cannot expand its technology offerings at the BMATC because of the limited space, and can’t start up new programs.
The programs that are going to be transferred to future Lubbock Center from the BMATC are Accounting Associate, Business, Computer Information Systems, Office Technology, Paralegal Studies, Real Estate, Automotive Technology, Industrial Manufacturing Emerging Technologies, Basic Fire Academy, Advanced Fire Technology, and Associate of Applied Science in Fire Technology.
SPC is working on the building immediately, including roof repair, changing locks on the building, and asbestos abatement. Dr. Sharp says they will be working on the building for the next 14 to 16 months, with plans to have the ribbon cutting ceremony in early 2017.
“I think it’s a game changer for our students and the Lubbock community to have SPC, and to have some flexible space to do some things in,” explains Dr. Sharp. “We can help people get a certification and get certain training to help them be a better employee. I really think it’s going to be a great asset. We have nice Levelland, Reese, and Plainview campuses, so I believe [the South Plains College Lubbock Center] will compliment all of them and end up being somewhat of a hub in terms of having students get to us and work their way through our system.”
Dr. Sharp explains the center will be great for students who live in Lubbock, but don’t have transportation to get to the Reese Center campus or the Levelland campus.
“This gives [SPC] a nice, big footprint in Lubbock,” Dr. Sharp explains. “This gives students a chance to access us and give them an opportunity to be part of our programs. Because most of the time, once they get involved, they like the faculty and staff so well they don’t want to leave. If we can get them through the front door, then we can get them finished up. I’m really excited for this opportunity to be in Lubbock with our own building. It’s been crowded in the Byron Martin Center for a while.”
South Plains College’s new educational center is located on Avenue Q in Lubbock. GABRIELLA GAMBOA/PLAINSMAN PRESS