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TCC BREAKS GROUND FOR REGIONAL AUTOMOTIVE CENTER
Oct. 31 groundbreaking featured 50+ vehicles outlining facility’s “footprint”
|From left to right: President DiCroce described the importance of the Regional Automotive Center to Hampton Roads for City TV-48 and WAVY-10 news. Hampton Roads dealerships loaned dozens of vehicles to create the "footprint" of the facility. Chesapeake Mayor Dalton Edge, at the wheel, with President DiCroce in the front seat, TCC College Board Chair Dorcas Helfant-Browning and Chesapeake Campus Provost Linda Rice in the back seats joined the engine revving and horn honking as the TCC logo rose during groundbreaking.
HAMPTON ROADS, Va. – (Oct. 31, 2006) – In a crucial step toward meeting mounting automotive workforce needs in the region and beyond, Tidewater Community College celebrated groundbreaking today for its state-of-the-art Regional Automotive Center.
More than 200 community members including Hampton Roads Automotive Dealership Association (HRADA) representatives, civic and business leaders and dignitaries attended the event marking the start of construction of the 30,000-square-foot facility being developed in the Oakbrooke Business and Technology Center, the City of Chesapeake’s newest business park.
With a dazzling backdrop of dozens of the area’s finest new vehicles - from sports cars to SUVs to trucks - TCC President Deborah M. DiCroce led comments before a diesel-powered excavation machine roared to life to dig the first load of dirt amid a chorus of automobile engines. Speakers were Chesapeake Mayor Dalton Edge, HRADA President Bill Schneider, TCC Chesapeake Campus Provost Linda Rice, TCC student John Riddick and TCC Automotive Technology Program head Walter Brueggeman.
“The shared vision of TCC and Chesapeake continues to advance our region in crucial matters of workforce development and cutting-edge education, exemplified by collaboration on this new facility for high-tech automotive training,” said TCC President Deborah M. DiCroce. “Chesapeake and TCC are embracing a model of excellence for our citizens. As industry needs grow and this region expands, so must access to higher education.”
Citing the automotive center’s strategic role in preparing high-tech automotive professionals, DiCroce says, “With this era marking immense growth in technology advances, it’s clear that TCC’s long-range vision for this center is on target. By offering the latest in automotive facility design, equipment and highly trained faculty, TCC’s Regional Automotive Center will prepare the industry’s workforce of today - and tomorrow.”
In support of that goal, HRADA’s Bill Schneider made a surprise announcement during his speech, saying that the association is giving a new $20,000 scholarship gift to TCC for automotive students. This expands upon past annual scholarship support from HRADA.
Recent statistics underline the dire need for a qualified workforce in the automotive industry. An August 2006 story by the Associated Press states that auto dealers and manufacturers have 100,000 jobs to fill (source: National Automobile Dealers Association). It also cites a similar study by Automotive Retailing Today stating there are 104,803 openings in various positions, from sales to service, mostly in the Midwest and the South. According to the National Dealers Association, technicians can earn $70,000-100,000 a year at busy locations.
Funded primarily by the 2002 Higher Education General Obligation Bond, overwhelmingly supported by the voters of Hampton Roads, and with additional funding from the City of Chesapeake, the new center will triple the physical size of the TCC Automotive Technology Program. It will allow expansion of training and educational programming to students and an increasingly sophisticated segment of the local economy. With classes that include electronics and today’s high-tech diagnostics, TCC’s program offers numerous certification and degree programs and career-studies credits that allow employees to remain current with technological advances.
In addition to a comprehensive automotive technology curriculum, TCC’s new Regional Automotive Center will incorporate DaimlerChrysler CAP (College Automotive Program), Toyota T-TEN (Toyota Technical Education Network), and Honda PACT (Professional Automotive Career Training), one of only four colleges in the nation to offer all three manufacturers’ programs.
The facility will feature nine classrooms and 15 20-foot-high bays - with one designed for an 18-wheeler - and the latest in high-tech instructional equipment including ceiling-mounted video cameras to project hands-on demonstrations to everyone in the class. The facility will also offer conference space that will support the specialized needs of the automotive sector.
A well-established model for industry partnerships, TCC’s Automotive Technology Program boasts an award-wining advisory board comprised of 32 members from all areas of the industry, including regional dealerships.
The automotive center represents the first step in implementing a long-range, “shared vision” to expand and enhance TCC’s presence in the City of Chesapeake. Currently serving nearly 9,000 students annually, the Chesapeake Campus is the fastest-growing of TCC’s four campuses. The planned expansion of the campus will accommodate more than 23,000 students in the future.
Tidewater Community College
is the second largest of the 23 community colleges in the Commonwealth
of Virginia, enrolling more than 37,000 students annually. The 37th
largest in the nation’s 1,600 community-college network, TCC
ranks among the 50 fastest-growing large community colleges. Founded
in 1968 as a part of the Virginia Community College System, the
college serves the South Hampton Roads region with campuses in Chesapeake,
Norfolk, Portsmouth and Virginia Beach as well as the TCC Jeanne
and George Roper Performing Arts Center in the theater district
in downtown Norfolk, the Visual Arts Center in Olde Towne Portsmouth
and a regional Advanced Technology Center in Virginia Beach. Forty-four
percent of the region’s residents attending a college or university
in Virginia last fall were enrolled at TCC. For more information,