CPCC: Billion-dollar economic engine

The amphitheater at CPCC's new Cato III Building.Feb. 2.  Central Piedmont Community College recently unveiled the new Cato III Building at its Charlotte campus on Grier Road. The Cato III Building provides academic and workforce training space at CPCC’s most crowded campus.  The 85,000 square-foot building increases the campus’ overall space by 85 percent. Meanwhile, a new study say CPCC adds more than $1 billion to the local economy.

Begun in May, the $24.5 million project adds 36 full-size classrooms and five seminar rooms to the campus.  The facility also features a 4,000-square-foot library, auditorium seating for 130 people, a multipurpose lounge space overlooking a wooded creek area, a landscape design studio, and 20 individual offices plus a touchdown suite with eight workstations.

An economic impact study conducted for the North Carolina Community College System indicated CPCC added $1.1 billion to the Mecklenburg County economy in 2012-13.  Economic Modeling Specialists International (EMSI) conducted the study by looking at CPCC’s economic impact through its operations spending, construction spending, student spending, and the financial imprint of the college’s alumni.

In 2012-13, CPCC’s payroll and other operations spending equaled approximately $131 million.  The college’s new construction and renovation projects added $6.1 million to the local economy.  Students who relocated to Mecklenburg County to attend CPCC in 2012-13 spent money on groceries, transportation, rent and other needs and put an additional $11.8 million into the county’s economy.  EMSI suggests the accumulated economic contribution of CPCC alumni employed in Mecklenburg County amounted to $979.8 million.  All totaled, CPCC’s 2012-13 economic impact reached $1.1 billion.

The new building will be home to CPCC’s American Sign Language and Interpreter Education program and its College and Career Readiness program.  The Patty and Bill Gorelick Art Gallery is located in the first-floor lobby.

A 150-foot pedestrian bridge connects the new parking area and the main campus.  The bridge spans and leaves undisturbed a creek and wooded wetland area.  Cato III is the first CPCC building to use energy-saving LED lighting throughout.  It also has two charging stations for electric vehicles.

The space was designed by Little Diversified Architectural Consulting of Charlotte.  Rodgers Builders managed the project.  Funding was provided by 2013 Mecklenburg County bonds.

The Cato Campus and buildings are named for Wayland Cato, Jr., founder of Cato Clothing Stores and longtime supporter of CPCC.  In 2005, CPCC renamed the Northeast Campus in his honor.

PICTURE: The amphitheater at the new Cato III Building


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