Trident Tech plans $79M center to help train state’s burgeoning aeronautical industry
Trident Technical College’s efforts to sculpt a local workforce to fill the ranks in the state’s burgeoning aeronautical marketplace is set to climb to another level.
What: Trident Technical College wants to build a 215,000-square-foot Aeronautical Training Center.
Cost: $79 million to be paid between state and local funds.
Purpose: Expand college’s current aeronautical curriculum and create a workforce to support the state’s burgeoning marketplace.
Status: Construction date hinges on availability of funds.
Source: Trident Technical College
The college is planning to build a $79 million aeronautical training center at its North Charleston campus. The 215,000-square-foot space would help train workers for the aeronautical cluster in the region and state, including Boeing South Carolina and its suppliers and vendors, officials said.
The college’s facility would provide training in aircraft assembly, aircraft maintenance and avionics. It also would expand the two-year college’s aeronautical curriculum.
The project also is anticipated to result in a small, county-wide property tax increase of about $2 more on a $100,000 home, officials said.
Trident Technical College President Mary Thornley said the proposed center will provide skills and training “critical to attracting the suppliers and vendors that will grow the aeronautical cluster in South Carolina.”
“It is not so much what this center will do for Trident Technical College but what it will do for the entire state,” she said. “People are asking if we can provide the workforce to support the companies interested in locating in South Carolina. We can, but we need a facility that shows we mean it.”
Plans for the aeronautical center follow Boeing Co.’s commitment from this year to invest another $1 billion and add 2,000 more workers over the next eight years in the state.
Trident Tech offers four airplane-related degrees or certificate tracks — aircraft maintenance technology, aircraft assembly technology, avionics maintenance technology and basic industrial work skills.
The college’s new facility is planned to be housed on part of 25 acres of land adjacent to its main campus, which was established in 2006 as an Enterprise Campus.
The facility will include 130,000 square feet of classroom and laboratory space, a 50,000-square-foot open bay to accommodate aircraft, large aircraft parts, and training aids. Other newly built space would house shops for teaching skills in areas such as sheet metal work, composites, welding, engine and painting, officials said.
The facility is also planned to have 10,000 square feet dedicated to office and administrative space and a 100,000-square-foot aircraft ramp.
An opening date for the facility has not been set, since the construction will be determined by availability of funds, said Trident Tech spokesman David Hansen.
Trident Tech is a partner of readySC, a state-run program that provides workforce training for various companies like Boeing, BMW and Bridgestone.
It was not known Monday how many of Boeing South Carolina’s roughly 6,100 workers have been trained for jobs by readySC.
ReadySC spokeswoman Kelly Steinhilper did not respond to phone calls seeking comment Monday.
“Just as BMW’s arrival in South Carolina two decades ago ushered in tremendous automotive-sector investment here, Boeing’s presence can serve to spur the growth of the aerospace sector in the state, which already has more than 200 aerospace-related companies,” said state Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt. “Leveraging our technical college system and programs like readySC are critical to fostering the growth of aerospace through workforce development.”
Boeing makes parts for and assembles the 787 Dreamliner at Charleston International Airport, where the aerospace giant is amassing more land for undisclosed uses.
Boeing South Carolina spokeswoman Candy Eslinger did not respond to phone calls and emails seeking comment about the proposed Trident Tech facility.
The technical college’s project is expected to be funded with $51.25 million from the state, $18.75 million from the county, $8 million from the school and $1 million from the city of North Charleston.
Charleston County Council’s finance committee will address how to fund its part of the project during a meeting on Dec. 5.
Charleston County Council Chairman Teddie Pryor said Monday that Trident Tech’s Thornley has asked if she can make a presentation to Council on the project. He’s not yet sure when that will happen.
But, he said, he would support the new building. “We need people trained for these jobs.”
Charleston County’s shelling out of $18.75 million for the project is contingent on the state paying its share, officials said.
The proposed funding for Charleston County would include a countywide property tax bond. The county used similar funding to help pay its $18 million part for the Trident Tech’s nursing building a year ago.
Thornley said the new aeronautical facility is preparing for a groundswell in the industry.
“What we see today is the tip of the iceberg,” she said. “We must plan now for a facility to train a specialized workforce that will help build and sustain a competitive position for our region and state.”
Diane Knich contributed to this report.