LIVINGSTON – College is coming to Livingston Parish.
Gov. John Bel Edwards announced the Northshore Technical Community College & Advanced Technology Center will be built in Walker.
The 20,000-square-foot facility will represent an investment of $5.8 million to help Livingston Parish residents get the training needed to join or advance in the workforce, the governor said.
Speaking at a news conference at the Livingston Parish Courthouse, Edwards credited the Livingston Economic Development Council, Livingston Tomorrow, parish officials and private businesses with raising $700,000, or 12 percent of the cost to help the project.
The Livingston Parish School Board also donated land next to the Literacy & Technology Center on Florida Boulevard in Walker for the college site.
No timetable on when work would begin or the campus would open were discussed.
“Twenty years ago, a student got out of high school, they had a ticket to the middle class,” the governor said.
Today, two-thirds of the students graduating from high school “need more training,” Edwards said.
The Livingston Parish campus will give students an opportunity to get training for a career and stay in Livingston Parish, he said.
High school dual enrollment and a partnership with Southeastern Louisiana University and other state universities will be available, Edwards said.
When the governor meets with businesses considering moving to Louisiana, Edwards said the first question he faces is “Will the talent be available, will the pipeline be in place” to provide enough trained workers to fill jobs.
The time is right for a community college to come to Livingston Parish, the governor said.
“For the first time in nine years, there were no cuts in higher education and we fully funded TOPS,” Edwards said.
“A 2010 study by BESE said this (campus) was needed,” he said.
Northshore Technical Community College (NSTCC) offers workforce training, associate degrees, technical diplomas and certificates to students, according to its website.
Its chancellor, Dr. William Wainwright, called the new campus “a generational investment in education.”
He thanked the School Board for the land donation and recognized the efforts of state Reps. J. Rogers Pope, R-Denham Springs, and Dale Erdey, R-Livingston.
Pope served as parish school superintendent before being elected to the Legislature.
“The opportunities this will provide will be unbelievable,” said Rick Wentzel, Livingston Parish school superintendent.
Walker High School Principal Jason St. Pierre, who has expanded career education at his school with changes to the Green and White Cookie Site, an apparel shop and a credit union, said it will open options to students.
“We will be a partner with Northshore,” he said, offering students a chance for dual enrollment or begin their college course there then transfer to a four-year university.
The Livingston Parish facility will be the sixth campus of Northshore Technical Community College in the Florida Parishes.
The other four are in Hammond, Greensburg, Lacombe, Bogalusa and Slidell.
Kevin Fambrough is a reporter at the Livingston Parish News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on Twitter at @fambroughkevin.