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FHTC purchase sets stage for growth in welding, other programs

Monday's decision by the Flint Hills Technical College Board of Trustees to buy the one-time Four Mile Carriage location in southwest Emporia will certainly benefit the college's welding program. It may also have a big positive impact on other college programs.

President Dr. Dean Hollenbeck joined KVOE's Morning Show on Tuesday to explain the move, which he says will set the stage for at least doubling -- if not nearly quadrupling -- enrollment in the welding program. Hollenbeck says the program's need for more space has been evident for about 18 months, partly because of the ongoing success of the college's Power Plant Technology program.

Hollenbeck says enrollment could jump from the current 25 to 30 range up to at least 60, and there is a chance enrollment could approach 100 in a few years.

Cost is $195,000, and the college is partnering with CoreFirst on a six-year lease-purchase agreement for the property at 3701 West Sixth.

Hollenbeck says the building and land purchase is significant for another reason: it could well relieve the space crunch at both the main campus, 3301 West 18th, and the downtown campus at the Humanitarian Center. The Four-Mile Carriage address has almost double the six acres the college has available at its main campus.

The college researched the costs of taking a green field project and constructing a new building for the welding program, but estimates had those costs in the $500,000 range without any land availability.

Hollenbeck says the college's longstanding partnership with Sauder Custom Fabrication will continue.

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