Local News

Slow economy spurs need for third Wake Tech campus

Posted June 10, 2008 4:57 p.m. EDT
Updated June 10, 2008 6:29 p.m. EDT

— The slowing economy is one reason Wake Technical Community College officials are pushing to open a third campus.

The Morrisville Board of Commissioners was expected to review a proposal Tuesday night to rezone 76 acres for a Wake Tech campus. A final decision would come later in June.

"We have found that when unemployment goes up by 1 percent, our enrollment will go up by 4 percent," Wake Tech President Stephen Scott said. "People come back (to school). Either they've lost a job or they're afraid that they might, (and) they want to get the latest skills and technology they possibly can."

Wake Tech's enrollment has grown from about 52,000 in 2004-05 to about 59,000 this year, according to North Carolina Community College System figures.

The college opened its second campus off Louisburg Road near Interstate 540 in northeast Raleigh last year to cater to the growing enrollment and limit the commute for area residents who live in the northern part of the county.

A Morrisville campus would save money for prospective students who live in western Wake County, officials said.

"I've got a chart at home that says I've got to work this many hours (and) wait this many tables to get gas money to drive to school every day," Wake Tech student Iain Henderson said.

A bond approved by Wake County voters would cover the cost of buying the land in Morrisville for a college campus, but state and local officials haven't set aside any money yet for construction.