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VC president talks about expansion to Realtors

By KBell
April 10, 2012 at 7:04 p.m.
Updated April 10, 2012 at 11:11 p.m.

Dianne Jernigan

Center background

The Victoria City Council recently voted to transfer 10 acres to the college from its second business park development project on Lone Tree Road.

The center would face the new Caterpillar plant.

It fits into the college's desire to conserve academic space on-campus while building an easily-accessible space close to both the college and industry.

If the college's bond does not pass, the land would revert to the city.

Tom Butler appealed to area Realtors on Tuesday as the Victoria College president touted the school's plans to build an Emerging Technologies Center.

Butler stopped short of asking members of the Victoria Area Association of Realtors to vote in favor of the $22 million bond that's set to appear on the May 12 ballot. But he did explain how the college thinks its Emerging Technologies Center would benefit the Victoria area.

"We love our employers. We work very closely with them, but we have never yet trained a corporation," he said. "We train students, so that's the level of our focus. We're focused on people who live in our community getting training, getting good jobs."

The proposed 80,000-square-foot building is in response to a surge in enrollment, particularly for workforce and continuing education training. The college now has 6,753 students enrolled in those courses, up 42 percent since 2009.

"We're looking at the trend and trying to meet the need, and we think the way to do it is this Emerging Technologies Center," Butler said.

The center would include specialized training labs, welding and computer labs, traditional classroom space and rooms for large-scale corporate training events.

For the Realtor crowd, Butler explained what the bond would mean for clients inquiring about tax rates. VC's tax rate would increase to about 19 cents per $100 of property valuation, which is up from its current 16 cents, he said.

People with a $100,000 home would pay $2.48 more per month.

Dianne Jernigan, chairwoman of government affairs for VAAR, said she was sold on the idea.

"As this town grows and new employees come to the area, we want to meet their needs - and not only their real estate needs," she said. "It sets us apart as a community. These kinds of things give our (Victoria Economic Development Corporation) something to sell ... As Dr. Butler said - an investment in our future."

Butler concluded his half-hour presentation by encouraging Realtors to get out and vote on the bond, regardless of their support.

"You want whatever decision that's made to be the will of the community, and that only happens when everybody votes," he said.

Members also had the opportunity to ask questions of the City Council candidates at Tuesday's meeting, sponsored by TDECU.

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