Southwestern Community College’s new $21 million Health Sciences Building is starting to take shape on the west side of the campus as construction remains on schedule to finish by the summer of 2021.

As of Nov. 20, the structures for both stairwells and the elevator shaft have been erected. Steel framework is expected to start in mid-December.

Crews have been working diligently since breaking ground May 6.

Designed by LS3P, the building project is overseen by Michigan-based Christman Company, which has a regional office in Knoxville, Tennessee.

“We’ve been meeting with our construction team every week, and it’s been impressive to watch the early stages of this building rise up from the ground,” SCC President Don Tomas said. “Every morning when I drive onto campus, I can see something new. This building is going to change the landscape of SCC. We couldn’t be more excited.”

The 55,411-square-foot building will house 10 programs across 23 classrooms and labs, along with a pediatric gym. The increase in space will result in the ability to serve approximately 144 additional students the first year and 284 additional students in each subsequent year.

A number of programs will offer free community clinics in the new building as an essential part of the learning process.

These include:

• Medical assisting.

• Medical laboratory technology.

• Medical sonography.

• Nursing.

• Occupational therapy assistant.

• Physical therapist assistant.

• Pulmonary function testing and rehabilitation.

• Substance abuse counseling and recovery.

• Therapeutic massage.

“We’re pleased to see our programs and students become stronger than ever from the additional resources this new building will provide,” said Mitch Fischer, dean of Health Sciences. “Access to a wide variety of free healthcare services will greatly improve the quality of life in our area.”

SCC has outgrown its Balsam Center, which was built in 1988 to house four healthcare training programs. The college now has 14 Health Sciences programs, and this building will allow Southwestern to add three more: surgical technology, opticianry and speech language pathology assistance.

“The graduates of these programs can expect starting salaries significantly higher than the median poverty wage for both two- and four-person families,” Tomas said. “Nearly 90 percent of our graduates remain in Western North Carolina, providing the region with well-trained healthcare professionals while stimulating the local economy through higher salaries.”

Funding sources for the project include more than $13 million from Jackson County, $5.4 million from the Connect NC bond and more than $2 million will be covered by an Economic Development Administration grant secured by SCC and Jackson County.

For more information about SCC’s building project, visit: www.SouthwesternCC.edu/NewHealthSciencesBuilding.