LAWRENCEBURG, Tenn. – The Lawrence County Education Center will soon become a reality, thanks to a combination of funding resources.
Lawrence County Executive T.R. Williams said the center, which is a collaboration between state and local governments, Columbia State Community College, Tennessee Tech and Middle Tennessee State University, will be located on 50 acres off the U.S. 64 bypass near the U.S. 43 intersection.
Columbia State, which has a satellite campus at Lawrence County High School, will be moving to the new facility and offer two-year classes.
“Then Tennessee Tech and MTSU will be offering junior and senior year classes,” Williams said.
“We have been caught in a college desert,” said Loretto Mayor Jesse Turner. “Anyone from Lawrence County wanting to get a higher education had to go across the state, or go to MTSU.This is going to give our children a chance to be educated at home.”
During Saturday’s Bicentennial Celebration, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam presented Williams and Lawrenceburg Mayor Keith Durham with a check for $4.6 million.
“Every Tennessean needs access to a quality higher education institution, which creates new opportunities for communities and local economies,” Haslam said in a release.
The remaining funding is coming from $1.5 million each from the city of Lawrenceburg and the Lawrence County Commission, and $1.5 million from private donations and businesses, which Williams said is “almost already secured.”
He said the money is for construction and equipment. The property is being surveyed. He expects work to begin soon with the first classes to be held in the fall of 2019.
Williams said the curriculum and types of degrees and certifications offered have not been determined, “but students will be able to get a bachelor’s degree or a certificate degree.”
County Commissioner Chris Jackson, chairman of the School Liaison Committee, said the new higher education center will help with economic development.
“This is huge for our county, our kids and future education in the county,” Jackson said. “The ability to attain a four-year degree right here in Lawrence County will not only benefit local students, but also workforce development.”
Haslam said having a highly trained and skilled workforce is essential in attracting jobs to an area.