Harford Community College is moving forward with its plans to create a programming annex in the Route 40 area of the county, where businesses and residents say there is a need.
In the meantime, some of the college’s programs will be expanded in the area using the Edgewood Library.
HCC Board of Trustees members agreed at their meeting Tuesday to use fiscal year 2020 as a planning year for the new Harford Community College at Edgewood, formerly referred to as the Applied Technology Center.
No money is budgeted for the project in FY2020 by HCC or by the county government, so trustees and college president Dr. Dianna Phillips agreed it would be the ideal time to really figure out exactly what programs should be offered there and when it should be completed.
Two years ago, businesses in the Route 40 corridor — Edgewood, Joppa, Belcamp, and Aberdeen — approached Phillips and said there’s a need for programs in that area of the county, and that it’s the responsibility of HCC to fill that need, she told the trustees.
“I absolutely agree, if there is a need, it is the college’s responsibility, but not solely our responsibility,” Phillips said. “We had to get the data, we had to do the study before we could decide if we really have a need and if we really have the partners that want to help us respond to this need.”
Results of that study, done by MGT Consulting Group of Florida between June and December 2018, were finalized Feb. 11 and presented to the trustees Tuesday.
The study found there are existing challenges for residents in that area of the county, especially when it comes to transportation. Denise Carnaggio, the Aberdeen Proving Ground liaison and strategic partnerships coordinator for HCC, said it could take as long as an hour and a half to get from that corridor to the main campus in Bel Air.
Even though efforts were made to reduce the trip to an hour, “that’s just not acceptable,” Carnaggio said.
There is also a lack of workforce training options in that area of the county, she said. A satellite campus would bring programs to those residents in the form of associates degrees, certifications or workforce credentials.
More than 60 interviews were done with representatives from APG, HCC, local and state government representatives and people in the private sector, she said.
The study estimated a 5 to 11 percent growth in the population in that area between 2010 and 2030, and a 16 percent overall growth in the county, compared with 53 percent growth in Cecil County, Carnaggio said.
According to the study, HCC accounts for 20 percent of the associates degrees and 4 percent of the certifications in its market area.
Among the programs being considered for HCC at Edgewood, in addition to basic foundational courses, are fields like advanced manufacturing and cybersecurity, Carnaggio said.
They were among the 21 people who offered comments on Harford County’s budget for Fiscal Year 2020, which begins July 1, during Harford County Executive Barry Glassman’s hearing Thursday night at Harford Community College.
Starting such an annex will take about 16 months, according to the study, longer for specialty programs like automotive tech. Full buildout would require 12,000 to 15,000 square feet for four classrooms, seven specialized labs, office and meeting space, other flex space and automotive or other trade space.
Additional considerations would be parking, ability to expand, accessibility to public transportation and safety, Carnaggio said.
Costs to build such a facility would be about $2.9 million, according to the study. Remodeling an existing space would cost about $152 per square foot, while leasing space would cost $14 to $16 a square foot.
The annex likely wouldn’t be profitable for three years, with an estimated enrollment of 87 people the first year, Kelly Koermer, dean of integrated business and applied technology, told the trustees. It would begin to turn a profit in the fourth year as the student body begins to grow, with a projected enrollment of nearly 300 by 2029.
“Because this was founded on a partnership, that would be what helps drive the project forward and the cost differential may be accounted for as to who those partners help us participate and move the project along,” Koermer said.