Chatham, CCCC’s relationship growing as funding increases

Posted 8/23/19

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a two-part story previewing the new school year for Central Carolina Community College. Last week, we covered what was new for CCCC in Chatham County this …

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Chatham, CCCC’s relationship growing as funding increases

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Posted

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a two-part story previewing the new school year for Central Carolina Community College. Last week, we covered what was new for CCCC in Chatham County this year.

SANFORD — Unlike their neighbor in Chapel Hill, Pittsboro and Siler City are not “college towns” in the traditional sense, where the university permeates most if not everything around it.

But to say higher education has little to no impact in Chatham County is at the very least an understatement, according to people who are regularly involved.

While fresh construction projects are under way and academic offerings premiere in both Lee and Harnett counties, CCCC’s offerings at its Pittsboro and Siler City campuses continue to draw in students and, the college’s administrators hope, make an impact in the county beyond the classroom. The county, so far, has responded in kind — just look at the budget. Mark Hall, the college’s provost in Chatham, said that influence may not be as noticeable but is certainly still there.

“I honestly think we’re already playing a pretty significant role as is,” Hall said. “It’s just not always as visible to larger density spots in Chatham County. Part of what I would like to see happen is that the people that don’t know that we’re there know that we’re there.”

It starts with money. The county has increased its yearly financial investment in Central Carolina Community College by 41 percent over the last three years — from $1,768,480 in FY 2017 to a projected $2,508,792 in FY 2020 — speaking to the role that CCCC plays in the county. County Manager Dan LaMontagne said the college is “an important part of the community.”

“We definitely see them as developing our workforce here in Chatham County,” he said.

The county has also spent money and is scheduling future investments in CCCC-related projects. The CIP includes $500,000 for infrastructure development at the Central Carolina Business Campus, which includes CCCC’s Siler City facility, for FY 2021, as well as $478,500 for replacing the roof on one of the buildings on the Pittsboro campus. Additionally, the county is planning to spend an additional $115,000 over the next two years on the walking trails around the Pittsboro campus and in developing and finishing a connector between the college and the Chatham Conuty Agricultural & Conference Center.

Along with expanding facilities, Hall said he wants to grow “educational opportunities.”

“That sounds like pandering, but what I really mean by that is more programs,” he said. “For many years, the campus in Pittsboro only had a few programs. I would like for people who live in Chatham or near Chatham to do everything they need to do for their education in Chatham. That’s the kind of presence I want to have over the next five years.”

The list of classes at the soon-to-open Chatham Health Sciences Center is not fully finalized, but Hall said offerings will include medical assisting technology, health fitness science and classes that prepare students for the state exam that will qualify them to become Certified Nurse Assistants, or CNAs. With a rapidly-aging population, there will likely be a market for more CNAs, particularly near the Briar Chapel area which is surrounded by retirement communities.

“Our population’s showing a continuing trend toward the aging population,” LaMontagne said. “We really need to be prepared to handle all that change, even though it’s not that much of a change. We think that’s the logical next step for the community college. Of course, their board saw that. We have some of the best medical facilities in the state right here.”

The program also fits in, Hall said, with the plethora of medical facilities LaMontagne mentioned.

“There’s already doctor’s offices and other places being opened up off of U.S. 15-501,” he said. “We know with the growth of Chatham, especially in that area and down to Pittsboro, there will be a lot of opportunities for our students to do training on-site in doctors’ offices, at the other medical facilities coming down from Chapel Hill, over in Siler City.”

The building will also serve as an early voting and regular voting site for northeast Chatham, something the CIP stated “has been very difficult to find in past elections.” The site has been drawn to potentially include a 10,000-square-foot library in the future.

All of these potential benefits seem to fit right in with the vision of Lisa Chapman, the college’s new president as of April 1. She said her goal for CCCC’s presence in Chatham to be the same as it is in Lee and Harnett counties: service.

“We want to serve,” Chapman said. “We’re good at serving. We are a first-class opportunity for our students and our community.”


Reporter Zachary Horner can be reached at zhorner@chathamnr.com or on Twitter at @ZachHornerCNR.

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