HGTC looking to find other funding for aerospace program

Myrtle Beach, SC - By Brandon Herring - bio | email

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Horry Georgetown Technical College will have to find more money than planned to start a proposed aerospace mechanics program.

Since the program is new and unique, the school plans to base it in a new building in the area of the Grand Strand Campus and Market Common.

In May, Horry Georgetown Tech's President, Neyle Wilson asked the board of the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base Redevelopment Authority for $1 million to help get the program started. The board agreed, but that decision caused some confusion and concern.

Back in January the redevelopment authority agreed to give Myrtle Beach that $1 million to develop more sports fields at Grand Park. The city just had to agree to help the county develop the nearby aviation industrial park.

"So a motion was made in January that said, yes," board chairman Robert Castles explained. "If you can reach an agreement, the county and city can come together, then yes."

Castles said the board decided to give the money to the college in May because members had not heard an update on the city and county agreement.

The city and county had been working on the agreement though and asked for the money back. At a meeting Tuesday night the board agreed to honor the original commitment to the city.

"The board said we made a commitment back in January, and we're going to live up to our commitment we did, and we're going to take this million dollars and we're going to give it back to the city," Castles said.

That decision left Horry Georgetown Tech back at square one trying to find extra money.

"There may be some federal options we're not aware of. We're going to look at those," Wilson said. "There may be some state options. There may be private individuals that would be interested in helping out."

The Air Force Base Redevelopment Authority board members did decide to give Horry Georgetown Tech as much money as it has available at this point. That is $600,000 to $800,000. The school was already planning to have to raise some money beyond the $1 million donation. So now the gap is even bigger Wilson said.

As the school works to find the money and the location it needs, planning for the academic side of the program is still in progress. The school's Vice President for academic affairs said she is confident the program will take shape.

"That's moving forward, and we hope to be offering some courses half a year to a year out," Fore said. "The pieces will come together. We have nearly 70 areas of study here at Horry Georgetown Tech, and we're used to developing programs and getting all the pieces together."

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