The State of South Carolina’s Technical College of the Lowcountry (TCL) has named their new, $26 million Regional Workforce Training Center in honor of our Classmate GEN (R) Arthur E. Brown Jr. ’53.
It will be known as: The Arthur E. Brown, Jr. Regional Workforce Training Center at the Technical College of the Lowcountry (TCL) New River Campus, Bluffton, SC.
In 1968, TCL was ceded to Benedict College when the Mather Junior College merged with Benedict College in Columbia. South Carolina. Mather’s Beaufort South Carolina campus was offered to the South Carolina State Board of Education. That same year, the Board of Education opened the Beaufort Trade School. By 1978, the school was nationally accredited as a two-year technical community college. In 1986, the SC Legislature established a local government board for the college —TCL Area Commission. Today, TCL has three campuses and four facilities serving approximately 5,000 credit and noncredit students annually.
Since 1968, the college has served more than 87,000 students. Ninety-four percent of TCL graduates go directly into the area’s workforce. They keep the hospitals, construction companies, small businesses, law offices and everything in between open for business.
Brown has been foundational to the school’s success. In 1996, under his leadership, the Technical College of the Lowcountry Foundation was established. He served as the Foundation’s chair for more than ten years. In 1997, he was appointed to the Technical College of the Lowcountry Area Commission by the governor of SC. After 23 years on the Area Commission, 15 years as chair, Brown resigned on July 1, 2020. Guided by his leadership the college had opened the Mungin Center in Hampton, South Carolina; the Bluffton New River Campus; and, in 2021, the Culinary Institute of the South.
Five years ago, the TCL engaged a national firm to assess the region’s current and future workforce training and education needs. An outcome of the assessment was the need for a workforce training center on the college’s Bluffton New River Campus. The campus is located in one of the fastest-growing municipalities in South Carolina. The proposed workforce center would enable the college to serve an additional 850 students each year. The report estimated that 12% of these additional students would be from outside the region such as transitioning military. (Locally, each year up to 1,200 armed services members from Parris Island Recruit Depot and Marine Corps Air Station move from military to civilian life.)
The TCL commissioned architecture firm McMillan Pazdan Smith to provide high level renderings of the proposed workforce center as well as a general cost estimate. The initial cost estimate for the workforce center was $26 million: $20 million for construction and $6 million for startup costs including non-capital equipment.
In the summer of 2022, State Representative Herbkersman proposed a 50/50 construction cost share between the State of South Carolina and Beaufort County. The state would provide $10 million to be matched by $10 million from the county. The Beaufort County Council agreed to the match. The effort was widely supported, and as of June 30, 2023, the college received the $10 million appropriation from the state of South Carolina.
The TCL is now working with Beaufort County to appropriate the $10 million county match to the state $10 million. Also, a capital campaign is being studied with the objective of raising the $6 million for furniture, fixtures, equipment, new personnel, and other start-up costs.
The TCL Foundation is confident that the Arthur E. Brown Regional Workforce Training Center will open in 2027.