FLORENCE, S.C. -- Florence-Darlington Technical College is poised for major developments in the near future.

We have already begun the first part of our Academic Master Plan with last spring’s grand opening of our new Automotive Technology and Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Technology Center.

The new 35,000-square-foot facility is located between the main campus and the Southeastern Institute of Manufacturing and Technology (SiMT) on DuBard Boulevard. Ground was broken in August of 2015. The expansion has freed up a whole building (now undergoing renovation) for the expansion of our Caterpillar Dealer Service Academy.

FDTC desperately needed this new facility because of the growing interest in both automotive and HVAC careers. Auto body technology also is housed in this new facility.

Students just completed a major project for the Florence Police Department SWAT team. They asked for our help in turning an old prisoner transport van into a tactical response vehicle. We were proud to help!

One of our largest divisions at FDTC has a new name, but its mission is the same as it’s been for more than 50 years. The FDTC Corporate and Workforce Development Division (CWD), which used to be called Continuing Education, has a long history of helping area students. CWD, headquartered at the SiMT, is a very important part of what we offer at Tech.

Continuing education is still offering courses to students wishing to improve themselves, and CWD is working with industry and business employers to provide ongoing training and education for their employees.

We are very proud to see employers like Beneteau, Georgia-Pacific, Honda, Sonoco and West Rock apply for and win awards from the South Carolina Apprenticeship Initiative (SCAI) grant and the Enterprise Zone program. These financial incentives from the state help them to better train their employees. CWD can significantly reduce the amount of money that these partners pay for training.

FDTC is poised to keep growing in enrollment and facilities. We look forward to the future and promise that our main goals are the same as they have always been since we opened our doors in 1964. We are the region’s No. 1 partner of business and industry, and we work hard to ensure that our students get the best education to prepare them for the future.

I am reminded of an old marketing tagline that says, “Florence-Darlington Technical College, Growing the Economy One Graduate at a Time!” It was true then, and it’s even truer now.

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