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Northeast State considers coming to Jonesborough

As leaders of Northeast State Community College work to establish a presence in downtown Johnson City, it appears they might also be considering expanding to Jonesborough.
“We are exploring sites for technical educational labs right now,” said Dr. Janice Gilliam, Northeast State president. “Certainly, we are looking at Jonesborough as a potential site.”
Jonesborough Mayor Kelly Wolfe spent part of Friday afternoon showing Gilliam and Dr. Steve Young, vice president for business affairs at the college, different potential sites suited for their possible needs.
“It would be our hope that they would consider Jonesborough to be their next location to expand,” Wolfe said. “You look at the absence of any technical training from Greene County coming this way and you realize that Jonesborough would make a good site.”
College leaders are currently looking at several potential sites to add to their main campus, which is located in Blountville, over the next five to 10 years.
“There’s a lot of planning going on,” Gilliam said. “We’re trying to grow our graduates by 50 percent by 2020.”
As a part of that goal, Gilliam said she also would like to see everyone in the region have access to a community college within 20 to 30 miles of their home.
“We are looking at those citizens right in this area that want an education but want to stay close to home to get it,” Gilliam said.
Should the community college expand into Jonesborough, Gilliam said the programs offered at the teaching site would likely relate to sustainable development and natural resources.
“We will be looking at industry needs,” Gilliam added. “Probably what we would do is take two or three programs (to the site) and keep adding more over time. We’d start with the biggest need first.”
Gilliam compared the potential plan to what the college has already done in Kingsport, where a satellite campus initially served 750 students, but has doubled that number in two years.
Gilliam said the college plans to grow that site even more and increase its enrollment at its facilities in Gray, with some of those students expected to utilize the teaching site currently being created at the Downtown Centre in Johnson City.
Gilliam expects some 100 to 300 students to use the Downtown Centre site once it is up and running, which is expected to be by January 2012.
Currently, the state has given approval for the Downtown Centre to serve as a teaching site of the college. Washington County leaders are now working with the Johnson City Development Authority to sell the building so it can be leased to the college.
As for the potential of a teaching site in Jonesborough, Gilliam said the recovering economy and budget issues will play in a role in when the ball could get rolling.
“It has got to match our budget and those are pretty slim these days,” she said. “But I hope we can get something started next year.”