published Friday, February 25th, 2011

Northwestern Tech to open Dalton campus

DALTON, Ga.—Georgia Northwestern Technical College plans to open a campus in the Whitfield Career Academy this fall offering five occupational programs, including an industrial systems technology class targeted to the carpet industry.

President Craig McDaniel said opening a Whitfield campus will allow the two-year college to provide a unified regional base for North Georgia technical education and work force development, with six campuses serving nine counties in the area.

The Whitfield County Board of Education voted Feb. 7 to allow the college to rent three lab classrooms at a cost of $5 per square foot for about 34,000 square feet of space. The one-year rental agreement includes utilities.

Louis Fordham, Whitfield County Board of Education chairman, said the county had more details to iron out, with the final agreement expected to be in place in about a month.

"We believe they will be a really good fit and compliment what we are already doing," Fordham said.

The campus will open in July and begin classes in August with space for about 300 students, McDaniel said. The classes offered will be computer information systems, criminal justice technology, management and supervisory development, technical specialist and industrial systems technology.

The industrial systems technology is particularly important to the floor-covering industry, and the school will work closely with the industry, McDaniel said.

Initially, the college had explored expanding in neighboring Murray County, with officials offering classrooms at Bagley Middle School at no charge except for utilities.

Several months later, Whitfield County employers also approached the college with an offer of classrooms in Whitfield County, McDaniel said.

After looking at both options and talking to leaders from both counties, McDaniel said the Whitfield County space seemed better suited to their needs.

The Murray County school building would not have supported the heavy lab equipment needed for some of the classes and is not SACS accredited, he said.

"It became apparent the school didn't have the resources," McDaniel said. "It would have been impossible for us to go into the middle school. We will only be 21/2 miles from the (Murray) County line and will work aggressively with leaders in both counties."

Murray County Commissioner David Ridley, who had sought to have the school in Murray County, could not be reached for comment Thursday.

about Mariann Martin...

Mariann Martin covers healthcare in Chattanooga and the surrounding region. She joined the Times Free Press in February 2011, after covering crime and courts for the Jackson (Tenn.) Sun for two years. Mariann was born in Indiana, but grew up in Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Belize. She graduated from Union University in 2005 with degrees in English and history and has master’s degrees in international relations and history from the University of Toronto. While attending Union, ...

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