DORCHESTER COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – Dorchester County residents will soon be able to get a degree closer to home after a new Trident Technical College campus opens in the Oakbrook area.
County officials are now working to negotiate a lease for the campus at the site of the old Big Lots on Dorchester Road and Old Trolley Road, next to the Aldi supermarket. The building will undergo extensive renovations including updating the facade, parking and exterior lighting.
Over 2,700 enrolled Trident Tech students were Dorchester County residents in the Fall 2018 semester, but they had to leave the county to go to one of the college’s campuses. Officials say locating a campus in the county should reduce student’s commute time.
“Over 50 percent of our first-time college attendees attend Trident Tech. Right now they’re going outside of the county to attend Trident Tech,” said Jason Ward, Dorchester County Administrator.
The college’s other campuses are located in North Charleston, Monks Corner, Charleston and Mount Pleasant. Trident Tech does operate a QuickJobs Training Center in Saint George, but the new location will be the first full-service campus in the county.
At the new campus, the college plans to offer technology-related classes including computer programming and cybersecurity. An HVAC program, biology, English, psychology and history classes should also be available to students at the campus.
County officials have been working to bring higher education to Dorchester County for years and they say the new campus should prepare residents for new jobs that are expected to be generated in the county in the coming years.
“One of the most critical needs we have in terms of economic development is trained workforce,” said Ward. “This is going to address the need for training our workforce here in Dorchester County so that as we get newer and better jobs, our citizens are prepared for those jobs.”
Trident Tech President Mary Thornley believes that the new campus could also attract new students from Dorchester County.
“It’s going to be a boon to our students who currently live in Dorchester County and to others who may be thinking about coming to Trident Tech but that trek is a little intimidating,” said Thornley.
She also said that the campus can be quickly changed to fit the needs of the county and residents.
“The space is not dedicated in such a way that we can’t change our minds and react to it. So we’ll be able to be very nimble and responsive because Dorchester [County] frankly is a county that’s changing. It is not the same county it was even five years ago when we were seriously talking about having a campus in Dorchester County,” she said.
The campus is expected to be opened for January 2020 classes.