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Vol State has “handshake agreement” to obtain land for Wilson County expansion

Last updated on March 9, 2019

By Jim Hayes

Volunteer State Community College has begun the long and winding road to establishing a satellite campus somewhere in Wilson County.

Campus President Dr. Jerry Faulkner, announced that Vol State has a “handshake” agreement to acquire 10 acres of land in Wilson County at a faculty meeting last week.
During an interview with The Settler, he indicated that the current owner will donate 2.5 acres of that land, leaving the college to come up with funding for the other 7.5 acres.
Faulkner would not disclose the precise locatio of the land.

“Until we have signatures on a piece of paper, I am withholding that information,” said Faulkner.

He indicated that the Board of Regents Facility Office (BORFO) has been advised of the location and that “they are doing their due diligence to ensure that it is an appropriate location.”
Faulkner said the BORFO is “working through the paperwork and I hope it will be complete within the next few months.” However, he cautioned that “as is the case with everything involving state government, things move slowly.”

He indicated that, if the land is successfully acquired, it will eventually house a building of roughly 25,000 square-feet.

However, before ground can be broken, there is a lengthy process that must be followed.

Faulkner said, “Our goal is to acquire the piece of property and then submit a capital project request to the state.”

Faulkner said work on that proposal has begun. If the Board of Regents (BOR) approves the proposal, it next goes to the State of Tennessee for inclusion in the state budget.
“If it all falls in line, and the budget is approved,” said Faulkner, “then money becomes available in July 1, 2020.”

The next steps in the process involve hiring an architect and getting bids for a contractor.

“We’re probably not looking at having classes there until 2022,” said Faulkner.

He said he anticipated the hiring of more professors and support staff, but until decisions are made on just what degree programs the campus will offer, he did not know how many more employees the college would take on.

Faulkner said the campus will offer “a full complement of general education courses, because every degree program has some general education component.” But, he was not able to discuss what specific degree programs might be offered.

“We’re looking more toward the community and looking more to the needs of the community in terms of offerings,” said Faulkner. “We’re working with the community to determine if there are career programs or certificate programs that need to be offered.”

Faulkner said that the college is acquiring the property because “the participation rate in Wilson County is as low as the rate of some of our rural counties. He attributed that to “the drive from Wilson County to Gallatin.”

He said that the college would be revisiting past studies in order to determine what to offer on the new campus.

“Certainly, we don’t want to build a new building and have people who were coming to Gallatin stay in Wilson County,” said Faulkner. “That would not be a good use of our funds.”
For now, however, the priority is obtaining the estimated $500,000 to obtain the 7.5-acre parcel.

Faulkner said he is working with the Vol State Foundation and is engaging in talks with individuals to try and secure those funds. He said, “the county needs to show some buy in,” in order for the project to move forward.

He also indicated that “at some point we may host a special event and advise everybody about the vision for the center.”
“There’s a great deal of excitement about having the location over there,” said Faulkner.

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