[CLINTON, N.C.] – Last week, the Golden LEAF Foundation announced $12.2 million in funding, included was a $1 million grant for Sampson Community College, solidifying the College’s plan for the renovation and development of the Sampson Trades Center. The grant, along with several other investments, allows for the expansion of vocational trades education and opportunities at the College, including courses in areas such as HVAC, masonry, and electrical.

Leaders at Sampson Community College and around the county see the partnership as an opportunity to keep the rich history of the College intact, while also bringing about fresh change, and meet the needs of industry leaders in the county.

“The awarding of this grant will allow SCC to provide students with a new and upgraded facility while maintaining some of the foundational histories of the College. It will be the beginning of professional careers in the areas of trades, both in curriculum and continuing education classes,” said Wanda Capps, Vice President of Academic Affairs. “We are thrilled to have received these funds to provide training and a better life for our students.”

Barney Grady, Applied Technical Division Chair, remarked, “This grant will allow for the construction of a new facility to house our new vocational programs. These programs are of great need in our county and this will allow us to provide skilled workers to help meet those needs.”

The notion of developing the Trades Center began when representatives from several community colleges across the region met. Amid discussions, it was determined that there was an immense need for more vocational training. Dean of Advancement for the College, Lisa Turlington, worked with the Rural Center, Golden LEAF, and school districts in the county to create a model for how the Trades Center could best serve students at the College.

The renovation and upgrade of the old welding building at Sampson Community College also allow the College to continue expanding its partnerships with local area high schools by beginning training in these areas for interested students at these schools through the Career and College Promise program. Clinton City Schools Superintendent, Dr. Wesley Johnson, says the Sampson Trade Center will be a benefit to all students throughout Sampson County and benefit the community accordingly.

“We are excited by the recent news of the $1 million Golden LEAF Grant to support the Sampson Trades Center. This center will provide education and training for students of both Clinton City and Sampson County Schools in key career occupations that will benefit our community and local economy for many years,” Johnson remarked. “We thank all the constituents who were involved to make the dream of the Sampson Trade Center a reality.”

Sampson County Schools Superintendent, Dr. Eric Bracy, echoed Johnson’s views, stating, “I am excited that our students will be prepared for post-secondary opportunities because of their hands-on, real-world educational experiences at the Sampson Trades Center.”

Once completed, the Sampson Trades Center at Sampson Community College will house three of the new four programs coming to the College this fall. (File photo)
The Sampson Trades Center matters for the future of Sampson County, but its immediate impact will be evident relatively soon. The building will house new programs in electrical, HVAC, and masonry, and be adaptable for industry needs. Therefore, the Trades Center can be utilized by the Workforce Development and Continuing Education division of the College, short-term training courses that lead to licenses, certifications, and credentials. These courses can be advantageous to adults looking to advance their careers, or for other students looking to begin a degree pathway in the future.

“The trades are necessary in so many facets of keeping Sampson County vibrant and growing,” shared Amanda Bradshaw, Dean of Workforce Development and Continuing Education.

Leaders at the college and in the community expect that the development will have a significant effect on the local economy. In addition to the Golden LEAF Foundation, several other investors contributed to the renovation project, including The Lonnie and Carol Poole Family Foundation, which was the first to invest in the project last fall. Other investors include Bill Prestage and Prestage Farms and Waste Industries/GFL Environmental.

“This project will have a huge impact on the Sampson County workforce, and we appreciate the investment of the Poole and Prestage families and GFL Environmental as well as the Golden LEAF grant. The collective approach to narrowing the skills gap will ensure success in addressing these needs,” Turlington acknowledged.

The programs will be open for enrollment on a limited basis this fall until adequate space is completed. The Sampson Trades Center is expected to be completed in 2021. Students interested in degree pathways related to these programs can contact Barney Grady, bgrady@sampsoncc.edu.

About Sampson Community College: Sampson Community College is a member of the North Carolina Community College System, located in Clinton, NC in Sampson County. The college offers many programs to include two-year degrees, college transfer, continuing education and workforce development options, and early college education.