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University System recommends $13.6 million for Lanier Tech campus project

The University System of Georgia (USG) Board of Regents has recommended $13.6 million in state funding for the University of North Georgia (UNG) to begin renovations on the former Lanier Technical College campus space, located next door to UNG's Gainesville Campus.

Lanier Tech campus
UNG officials hope to begin renovations soon after Lanier Tech opens a new campus in early 2019 and vacates its Oakwood campus. The earliest UNG could begin to occupy portions of the space, including the property's 600-plus parking spots, is fall 2020. The anticipated completion of the project is January 2021.

The funds are part of nearly $169 million for construction, planning and design, which also included $2.3 million for initial planning and design of a new building at UNG's Dahlonega Campus for the Mike Cottrell College of Business, that the USG plans to seek for fiscal year 2020. The funds are part of USG's overall funding request approved by the Board of Regents at the Sept. 11 meeting that will be submitted to the Office of the Governor for consideration during the 2019 legislative session.

Renovating the property will take place in stages and is expected to cost $18.9 million, much of which will be requested from USG over a three-year period. UNG officials hope to begin renovations soon after Lanier Tech opens a new campus in early 2019 and vacates its Oakwood campus. The earliest UNG could begin to occupy portions of the space, including the property's 600-plus parking spots, is fall 2020. The anticipated completion of the project is January 2021.

Dr. Richard Oates, vice president of UNG's Gainesville Campus, said he is excited about the opportunities afforded by acquiring the space.

"It is a gift. How many times do you get to inherit a campus right across the street?" Oates said. "This is a cog in our 10-year facilities plan – an unexpected and very welcome element that begins to address our facility needs. We know that the Gainesville Campus will continue to grow and we know that this space alone will not meet the growth needs for the next 10 years, but this will support some of our fastest-growing programs."

The units identified to move into the space when renovations are completed are: geospatial sciences, film and digital media, nursing, visual arts, and Office of Information Technology, Oates said. Other programs and departments that need more space or are spread out across the campus will be able to move into the spaces vacated when those five programs move, Oates said.

Oates is appreciative of the support of Lanier Tech and USG regarding advance planning.

"The USG has been very understanding that this is not your typical project and has allowed us to do some initial design now," Oates said. "They have been very helpful throughout the process so that we can move quickly when Lanier Tech vacates the property."

State Rep. Emory Dunahoo, who represents Oakwood in the Georgia House of Representatives, helped secure $3 million in funds for initial planning and design for the project, which was included in the FY19 state budget. Dunahoo said he will support the second phase of funding for the project, too.

"The University of North Georgia is a great resource and partner to have in our backyard here in Oakwood," Dunahoo said. "I'm excited about the opportunities that this expansion can bring for people who wish to pursue higher education, as well as the businesses in our area who increasingly require a workforce with 21st century skills and knowledge."

State Rep. Matt Dubnik, who represents Gainesville in the Georgia House and sits on the House Higher Education Committee, also helped secure initial funding for the project, and said he will continue to support funding for completion of the project.

"I'm excited to help support UNG with this development to facilitate growth of programs at UNG that support regional and statewide needs in two areas identified in the Governor's High-Demand Career Initiative — nursing and film and digital media," Dubnik said. "This is a great boon for Hall County to have immediate access to the programs and expertise provided by UNG."

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