MOUNT PLEASANT -- Having an East Cooper branch of Trident Technical College will make a big difference for Mark Dodd, who lives within five minutes of the planned new campus.

"That's a huge factor," Dodd said. Going to school now means leaving home at 4:15 p.m. to ensure that he is in class by 6 at Trident Tech in North Charleston. Being able to study engineering graphics design close to home will significantly cut commuting expenses.

Dodd, 53, said his son, Jason, 23, studies electronics technology at the school and also commutes from Mount Pleasant. Gas has once again risen to above $3 per gallon, Mark Dodd noted. "That's a big issue right now," he said.

Town Councilman Ken Glasson agreed. "Traveling up to North Charleston is a challenge, particularly if you live in this area," he said.

Currently, 1,600 students from the East Cooper area attend Trident Tech.

To make the new campus possible, Trident Tech is investing $500,000 to renovate a building that the town plans to lease to the school for $1 per year. Trident Tech offerings will complement the college program at Wando High School.

Study options will include computer graphics, digital photography, computer animation, computer imagery, engineering design graphics and computer-aided design.

A detailed schedule of campus offerings and additional training opportunities will be announced later in the spring. The campus is expected to eventually serve 1,000 students.

The community college branch will be located on Hungryneck Boulevard near U.S. Highway 17 in the former Bassett Furniture Store, a 25,000-square-foot building. The town bought the building for $1 million. Next week, council is expected to vote to lease it to Trident Tech for five years.

"This is a perfect example of a 10-month overnight success," Mayor Billy Swails said. He said the town approached Trident Tech with the idea of a campus, which also will serve Awendaw, McClellanville and other East Cooper communities.

Council members Nick Collins, Paul Gawrych, Thomasena Stokes-Marshall and Elton Carrier also attended a press conference Wednesday about the new campus.