Auto and tech school in Florence begins $7 million expansion - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Auto and tech school in Florence begins $7 million expansion

A new Automotive and HVAC Technology Center is coming to Florence Darlington Technical College. (Source: Audrey Biesk) A new Automotive and HVAC Technology Center is coming to Florence Darlington Technical College. (Source: Audrey Biesk)

FLORENCE COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - The first construction project in the last 15 years is well underway on the campus of Florence Darlington Technical College.

The new Automotive and HVAC Technology Center is just the beginning of the school's master academic plan.

It is an improvement plan FDTC's President, Dr. Ben Dillard is behind.

Ground broke on the new auto and tech center on October 2015, with construction starting earlier this summer. Work could not begin until there was enough funding available from selling bonds and a grant from the U.S. Department of Workforce.

Clay Williams, public relations director at FDTC, said the school wants to provide more job opportunity for students. This new center, in particular, is for auto mechanics, and heat and air conditioning specialists.

"So those jobs, really, they are out there," Williams said. "They just need trained technicians, and we are going to supply those technicians."

The $7 million project at FDTC is just the beginning of what is to come with the master plan over the next 10 years.

"What the academic master plan is talking about doing is totally revamping our campus, turning it into more of a pedestrian-friendly campus, because right now we are separated into large parking lots," Williams said.

The school currently has 6,000 students, and Williams said he wants to keep seeing growth. 

"What we’d like to do is keep on growing our campus and adding more students," he said. "I can see a day where we have 10,000 students here, but remember Florence Darlington Tech is more than just the main campus here. We've got sites in Hartsville, Lake City and Mullins.”

Right now, the students are sharing a building with trained Caterpillar dealer technicians, but because of growing enrollment, both departments need more room.

"What we're going to do is move the automotive folks into this larger building over here and Caterpillar will be able to take over the existing building, and they'll have a much larger facility," Williams said. "So it's a win-win for everybody."

Students can walk away from Florence-Darlington Technical College with a two-year degree in automotive technology and get a job right away. That is what Williams said FDTC is there for.

The Automotive and HVAC Technology Center is expected to be ready for students in the summer of 2017.

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