The state’s largest community college is moving one of its campuses to 34 acres of land in Apex to meet the needs of its growing region.
Wake Technical Community College leaders announced the land allotment on Wednesday and their plans to move the college’s west campus to the larger, now tree-covered site.
The 55,000 square foot West Campus of Wake Tech is now in Cary at 3434 Kildaire Farm Road in the Millpond Village shopping centre.
But even though Wake Tech has secured the new site, the relocation can only proceed with the approval of $353.2 million in bonds to pay for the college’s strategic growth plan.
The school’s Workforce Forward Bond, a four-part, four-year strategic growth plan, will be on the ballot in the Nov. 8 general election for Wake County voters.
“Our existing facility is in a mall in Cary. While a beautiful location that has served its purpose, it presents some real accessibility challenges for us, including parking,” said Scott Ralls, President of Wake Tech. “Nor is it ideal for the highly technical and sophisticated job training that is needed in this field which is experiencing such dynamic job growth.”
Ralls, who has led the college since 2005, made the announcement to a crowd of about 50 people, including several Wake County leaders, in the Dell Technologies parking lot on Technology Drive in Apex, which will be adjacent to the future Western Campus.
‘Permanent Site’ for Western Wake Tech
There aren’t many places to find 34 acres of available land in a growing area like Wake County, Ralls told The News & Observer. The new site is at the intersections of US 1, NC 55 and NC 540 Triangle Expressway.
Ralls said Apex was the best place to move the facility to establish “permanent roots” for West Campus.
“We were excited, especially here, because this part of Wake County is booming,” Ralls said. “Part of the boom is future job growth.”
In recent years, biotech companies Fujifilm, Securous Technologies and Amgen have come to the Triangle area, providing more jobs and attracting new residents.
“The question isn’t whether the jobs are coming,” Ralls said. “The question is whether there is an opportunity for people in this region to claim these jobs. This is why Wake Tech is so important.
The new west site will include a workforce development center with life science, information technology and industrial training labs to support the region’s dynamic job growth .
The site will also include the relocation of the college’s business and entrepreneurship programs, academic transfer opportunities, and campus operations.
About 75% of students who attend Wake Tech also live in Wake County, he said.
Wake Tech has seven campuses throughout the county and enrolls more than 70,000 students each year. The school also brings about $1 billion a year to the local economy, according to Jamie Thomas, chairman of the school’s board of trustees.
Expansion to Apex would provide graduates with the opportunity to stay in the area and gain employment.
“We want them to go through Wake Tech,” Ralls said. “We are not here by chance.”
Apex Mayor Jacques Gilbert, a Wake Tech alumnus, said bringing the West Campus to the city was an “important step.”
“We understand the benefits this would bring to Apex with the training of the workforce. This is not only a priority for Wake Tech, but it is also a priority for Apex,” Gilbert said during the interview. Wednesday’s event.
He said the campus would be another choice for local high school students after graduation.
“It will help kick start their college journey, and it certainly did for me,” Gilbert said. “That was instrumental in my success.”
The term labor obligation
While Ralls said Wednesday’s announcement represents an “important” day for the school, Nov. 8 will be even more important. That’s when voters will decide if the campus can become a reality.
“We have the land, but how quickly we develop and how quickly we can grow and build here will depend on that,” he said.
Ralls was joined on Wednesday by other city officials and employees, including Holly Springs Mayor Sean Mayefskie, Wake County Commissioner Shinica Thomas and Cary Deputy Director Shelley Curran.
“Having a permanent (Western) Wake Tech campus here can be life changing for a lot of our residents,” Curran said. “It’s also going to affirm the fact that Wake Tech is really the fabric of this community.”
Erica Tyler, an online student who attended the event, said the new western campus would be a good introduction for prospective students.
“When I was in high school, I couldn’t really see the endpoint, but everyone here at Wake Tech is really encouraging,” she said. “I know the people of Fuquay (-Varina) would be really excited about this.”
Eli Coats, who attends Wake Tech’s South Campus, said going to community college before enrolling in a four-year university helped him explore more options.
Other Areas of Link Expansion
- A 120,000 square foot facility on the Perry Health Science Campus on Holston Lane in Raleigh. The new building would simulate a hospital and allow the school’s nursing programs to expand with the potential addition of mental health, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and respiratory therapy programs.
- A cyberscience facility at the RTP campus in Morrisville and the expansion of the school’s life sciences and information technology programs
- Investments in infrastructure throughout the Southern Wake college and campus
More information on the link can be found on the Wake Tech website.
This story was originally published September 21, 2022 3:34 p.m.