Ga. sets $400K study for locating a 4-year college in Fayette

Fund focuses on building film/TV curriculum for Fayette County area

The dream of luring a four-year state college or university here may be getting closer to fruition, thanks in part to Pinewood Atlanta Studios.

Two local legislators confirmed this week that $400,000 was programmed in the University System of Georgia’s 2014-2015 budget to prepare a new curriculum for television and movie course offerings that could be presented in Fayette County, a nod to the bright economic future brought here by the location of Pinewood.

That effort is expected to take at least a year if not more, since the new budget cycle starts July 1, but the hope is that such a program would help bring a four-year state postsecondary institution to Fayette County, said Fayette state representatives Matt Ramsey (R-Peachtree City) and Virgil Fludd (D-Tyrone). The ideal, both men said, is to have a facility that would provide other degree offerings as well.

“I think it’s something we’ll look at over the next two years ... and really have a chance to serve this community for years and years to come,” Ramsey said, adding that the presence of Pinewood Atlanta Studios “has created a lot of opportunities and a lot of excitement around here.”

Fludd said the options could include a two-year or a four-year institution but regardless the idea of having a college or university in Fayette County offers much for the future.

“I think it’s a phenomenal opportunity for Fayette’s economic growth: attracting young talent, professors and instructors, if they can help put us on the map as it relates to the film and TV production industry,” Fludd said.

Ramsey and Fludd both said a college or university would bring more young people to Fayette County. A demographic study recently released by the Fayette Visioning Initiative said the trend in recent years is that young families are no longer moving to Fayette County, and leaders have argued that trend needs to be reversed.

Ramsey credited outgoing Senator Ronnie Chance (R-Tyrone) for helping get the funds in the appropriation budget, and he added that the entire legislative delegation was made aware of the effort.

Georgia Military College announced April 11 that it plans to construct Fayette’s first full-scale college campus in the West Fayetteville area near Pinewood Atlanta Studios and Piedmont Fayette Hospital. Initial enrollment planned for GMC’s fall 2015 opening is 1,000 students.

The local campus will serve as home to all of the junior college’s regular courses, while tailoring the curriculum to the healthcare and entertainment industries as needed, GMC officials said.

Clayton State University has also offered college courses here in Fayette County for a number of years, but it has leased existing office space to do so in lieu of building its own standalone campus here.