Seymour to request funds from county

By CHRISTY ARMSTRONG
Posted 6/17/18

Cleveland State Community College President Dr. Bill Seymour will Monday ask the Bradley County Commission to help the college fund a new building. A resolution asking for a contribution of …

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Seymour to request funds from county

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Cleveland State Community College President Dr. Bill Seymour will Monday ask the Bradley County Commission to help the college fund a new building. 

A resolution asking for a contribution of $250,000 is on the agenda for the Commission's noon meeting Monday  at the Bradley County Schools central office building, 800 South Lee Highway. 

Tennessee's state budget for the coming fiscal year includes $25 million in capital outlay funding earmarked for CSCC. Seymour said $20 million will be used for a new health sciences building, while $5 million will be used for a major renovation of the Mary T. Barker Humanities Building. 

"This is the single largest funding opportunity we've had in the history of the college," Seymour said. "This is really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity." 

The catch is this state funding requires a 10 percent match, which in this case will be $2.5 million. After Gov. Bill Haslam announced CSCC's inclusion in the proposed state budget in January, the Cleveland State Community College Foundation launched a capital fundraising campaign which would help with the local match. 

Donors have pledged an amount covering about $2 million of these funds, said Seymour. However, pledges are not the same as donation checks, and the college is eager to fully fund the new building and renovations. 

That is what prompted Seymour to request $250,000 contributions from the Bradley County Commission and Cleveland City Council as their annual budgeting processes began this year. Each request included a provision which said these monies can be paid over three years and still meet the state's local match requirement. 

"Cleveland State has been providing quality education to the community for 51 years," Seymour said. "As far as I know, they have not had to spend a single penny on us since we opened."

However, Seymour said the college has had an outsized impact on the local economy over the years. Thousands of students have graduated from the institution, found work locally and begun paying local taxes. 

The college president said some local government leaders might balk at the idea of helping a state college fund a capital project. However, Seymour again noted this is a "once-in-a-lifetime" opportunity, and the college would greatly appreciate the local governments' help. 

"We've got capital needs that go beyond this request," Seymour said, adding the the college is "using a 51-year-old physical plant while providing the community with a quality education." 

He also pointed out the college has not had a new building constructed since it opened in 1967. 

Seymour said CSCC has also asked for and received commitments for funding after similar requests were made to the Athens and McMinn County governments. These funds will support improvements to CSCC's Athens facility. 

Any funds given to CSCC by the Cleveland and Bradley County governments will go toward improvements to the Cleveland campus. While the college has a five-county service area, "the vast majority" of its current students are Cleveland and Bradley County residents. 

"I absolutely know the challenge both the city and the county face in trying to fund more than what they have money for; this is something I am used to as a college president," Seymour said. "I am very appreciative of their willingness to examine this request." 

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