Request From Triumph Would Cover A Portion Of The Expansion Costs

The Okaloosa County School Board will request Triumph Gulf Coast Money to fund a north-end campus for Okaloosa Technical College. 

The request to Triumph Gulf Coast, funded from a settlement between the State of Florida and BP as a result of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, asks for $8.35 Million to fund the project partially. The expansion would cost $21 Million total, which would come from various other sources, including The Florida Department of Education Workforce Capitalization Grant and the Okaloosa County School District. 

Okaloosa County School District operates Okaloosa Technical College. So, the college needed approval from the Okaloosa School Board before moving forward with a grant request from Triumph Gulf Coast. 

“As One Okaloosa EDC (The Economic Development Advocacy Arm for Okaloosa County) looks to gain manufacturing companies to join our county at the Shoal River Ranch site, the need for career certificate programs in Manufacturing is our first priority for expansion. Specific program like Advanced Manufacturing, Welding, Electronics, are all programs that would be implemented on this campus,” a packet supporting the School Board’s Approval of the request said. 

The proposed additional campus would be at the Okaloosa Industrial Air Park, next to the Bob Sikes Airport in Crestview and Northwest Florida State College’s Airframe and Powerplant school. The facility would focus on career and technical education for students. 

 “We will continue working closely with our community partners and industry leaders to offer pathways that will further our students’ success in the north end and continue to contribute positively to Okaloosa’s economy,” said Okaloosa County Superintendent Marcus Chambers. 

Jon Williams, the director of Okaloosa Technical College, which is a part of the Okaloosa County School District, noted that as industry expands in Okaloosa County – the need for more of the students he has will grow. “Our industry partners, as well as the economic development council (One Okaloosa EDC) have relayed the growing need for even more skilled labor to support our local economic goals,” Williams said, “Okaloosa Technical College, as it should, is answering that call to action by seeking expansion to the northern portion of our county. To accomplish expansion, we are first seeking a grant through Triumph Gulf Coast to purchase space as a satellite campus. Additional grant dollars will also be sought from the Florida Department of Education and beyond so that programs at our new site thrive indefinitely. We are very excited to expand and offer even more hands-on learning and technical training for prospective students who are to become our local essential workforce.” 

This Is What An Okaloosa Technical College Expansion Would Mean for Okaloosa County School District Students (And The Rest Of The Community):

In simple terms, Okaloosa Technical College (OTC) is requesting $8.35 million in funding from Triumph Gulf Coast to expand its programs by adding a new campus in the north end of Okaloosa County. Here’s what they they say this expansion would do:

  1. Expand Program Offerings: OTC wants to offer more courses to meet the needs of local industries. Expanded course offerings would mean they can provide education and training in fields in high demand for the local job market.
  2. Benefits for the Community: This expansion should bring several benefits, including addressing the workforce needs of local businesses, make technical education more accessible to north county residents, stimulate economic development in the area, and promote collaboration between the college and local industries.
  3. Location: They plan to use property in the Okaloosa Industrial Air Park, which is ideal for education and industry partnerships due to its proximity to the Bob Sikes Airport. OTC’s sole campus is located in the county’s south end, making it difficult for residents in the north end to access training and education. The new campus will be in the north end, making it easier for people in Crestview, Laurel Hill, and Baker, as well as those in rural areas of lower Alabama, to attend.
  4. Community Growth: The new location is strategically chosen to support the growth areas of North Okaloosa County, including locations targeted for manufacturing development. The potential campus location hopes to bring higher-skilled workers into the local job market.
  5. Program Offerings: OTC plans to offer programs that meet the demands of local industries, including Manufacturing, Advanced Manufacturing, welding, electronics, and construction design. They will also focus on areas like semiconductor creation and cybersecurity. OTC plans to start the expansion immediately once the grant is awarded. Within a year, they aim to enroll over 150 students in various programs, and full expansion will be completed within two years of receiving the grant funds. This project aims to provide a work environment that allows students to earn industry certifications, which are highly valuable in the job market. They estimate that over 1,000 students will earn more than 4,000 certifications in various programs over seven years.


In a nutshell, OTC wants to expand its educational offerings to the north end of Okaloosa County to provide students with more opportunities and meet local industries’ workforce needs. They are seeking financial support to make this expansion possible.

Next Steps:

Now that the School Board has given staff the green light to request the money from the Triumph Gulf Coast Board, the administrative staff at the Okaloosa County School District and Okaloosa Technical College will need to prepare a presentation package to argue their case to the Triumph Gulf Coast Board.

Previous successful efforts in Okaloosa County included:

 

Triumph Gulf Coast is in charge of distributing more than $1.5 Billion to initiatives in the eight coastal western panhandle counties in Florida disproportionately affected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. 

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