The city of Aiken and Aiken Technical College are working together to secure a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to launch a construction trades educational program at a Kershaw Street property city officials plan to purchase.
Susan Winsor, the president of Aiken Tech, said she will find out next month whether they will receive the grant.
At its Aug. 25 meeting, Aiken City Council unanimously passed a resolution to purchase the former South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. building.
The 2.5-acre property includes an enclosed storage building, several open storage sheds, a large, heated warehouse and storage area, about 17 offices and a locker room.
"It has a lot of potential," said City Manager Roger LeDuc.
The construction trade program would include carpentry, masonry, electrical, plumbing and heating and air conditioning classes.
Dr. Winsor said the school also would provide an opportunity for workers to earn GEDs. In addition, the institute would include a program in which students could earn a contractor's license.
"We think a program like this is really needed," Mr. LeDuc said.
This type of training could help unemployed and under-employed people in the area, he said, and would complement efforts to train hundreds of people who lost their jobs with the closing of Avondale Mills in Graniteville in July.
In addition, Mr. LeDuc said, the amount of construction that is under way in Aiken - particularly on the north side - should provide plenty of construction jobs.
"Contractors are having a difficult time finding all aspects of workers in the construction industry," Dr. Winsor said.
Mr. LeDuc said SCANA has agreed to sell the property, which is valued at $380,000, to the city for $190,000. The building, which has been vacant for a number of years, also could be used for office space and storage.
"We were concerned about what would go there if we don't buy it," the city manager said.
He also said the property could include a housing project. The property borders the Edgewood neighborhood, which is part of the city's revitalization project on the north side.
Money to purchase the property will come from the Northside Revitalization Fund, Mr. LeDuc said.
Reach Betsy Gilliland at (803) 648-1395, ext. 113, or email@example.com.