Trident Technical College’s plan to build a $79 million aeronautical training center is an indication that the state is doing some things right for education and for the economy.
Company after company that has moved to the Lowcountry credits TTC as a major factor in its decision. The school works with local industries to ascertain their workforce needs and to develop curricula that meet those needs.
Boeing is the most obvious example. It employs more than 6,000 people in North Charleston, and expects to hire an additional 2,000 over the next eight years. Trident Tech has worked closely with Boeing to tailor its aeronautics program.
TTC says construction of the 215,000-square-foot facility will enable that program to expand as needed. But it will depend on the college’s ability to secure funding — $51.25 million from the state, $18.75 million from Charleston County, $8 million from TTC and $1 million from North Charleston. Certainly, all those entities should step up to the plate.
But there is a good case to be made for Berkeley and Dorchester counties making contributions, too. Boeing benefits residents in all three counties, and is located a stone’s throw from where the three counties converge as one metropolitan area. Charleston County taxpayers shouldn’t be expected to bear most of the local burden.
The college was named Trident for a reason. It was created to serve what was once called the Trident region (in an attempt to brand the tri-county area). And the aeronautics program would provide a regional benefit. TTC officials should make the pitch to other local jurisdictions.
As is, estimates are that the necessary tax increase would cost Charleston County residents an additional two dollars in taxes on a $100,000 home.
TTC is the appropriate place to provide aeronautical training, and the time to do it is as soon as possible. Boeing is on track to purchase a 267-acre parcel of property, which is near its present assembly plant, from the Charleston County Aviation Authority for future expansion.
A skilled workforce needs to be available when Boeing jobs become available. Otherwise, the aerospace giant will simply employ those who already have the training and are willing to move here for jobs that pay well.
Meanwhile, more companies that supply Boeing with goods or services are expected to set up shop in the area. Their presence should expand workforce needs considerably.
TTC has proven its merit. In addition to providing a wide range of degree programs in fields as diverse as nursing, accounting, avionics technology and horticulture, it serves as an academic bridge for students who wish to earn a four-year degree. Students, some of whom have not been accepted into four-year programs, can begin at TTC and complete their education at a four-year college.
Trident Technical College plainly helps support and grow the economy by training a workforce to fill skilled jobs that pay well. A broader aeronautical program will enhance the job outlook locally and help sustain an industry that has proven to be a great fit for the tri-county and the state. It deserves the local and state support needed to make it happen.