Salt Lake Community College’s plans for a new campus in southwestern Salt Lake County were delayed for a year by the coronavirus, as state dollars slated for a first building disappeared in the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.
But with $32 million in funding restored under an appropriations bill signed by Gov. Spencer Cox Thursday, SLCC is on track to break ground on its Herriman campus this summer, and it plans to have its first building open in 2023. The new campus will offer SLCC and University of Utah classes to adults and high school students in the fast-growing surrounding communities.
Enrollment for the new campus will start with 2,125 students in 2023 and grow to 6,750 students in 2025, according to a presentation by the college before the Legislature, in the session that concluded earlier this month.
SLCC President Deneece Huftalin said the campus will have 12 programs between the community college and the U. by 2025. Students will be able to earn SLCC associate degrees and baccalaureate degrees from the U. on site.
The two institutions worked together to identify programs for industries with high demand in Utah, like teaching, software engineering, business and nursing, she said.
The 90,000-square-foot, classroom-focused building that will open in 2023 will be the first of many, Huftalin said. The site’s master plan is designed to connect with the city’s existing trail system. The plan will be adjusted based on enrollment and program needs.
Serving southern residents
Although there are no geographical limits on who will be able to take courses in Herriman, she said, she expects students to primarily come from surrounding communities.
“The goal is to help people stay in Herriman and not have to cross the entire valley to get to the U.,” she said.
That access will reduce traffic and ease the burden on students who work full-time while in school, she said.
Tami Moody, assistant city manager for Herriman, said the new campus will stimulate the job market by providing both jobs and training for employees.
“Anytime you have a campus like this that comes into your community, it will spur growth,” she said.
The city has invested in $20 million in infrastructure for the area, including road improvements and water lines, Moody said. There is a retail area across from the college campus, which will provide places to eat, shop and work for students, she said.
There are three high schools in the city, two traditional public schools and a charter school, as well as high schools in surrounding areas that will be able to feed into the college.
The City Council “has been anticipating the day when we can break ground on this campus,” she said. “When COVID hit and all the funding was suspended for a while, it was a little disheartening.”
She said city officials are excited to see that the funding is back this year.
A decade in the works
Huftalin said the college decided to invest in 90 acres of land in Herriman in 2010 on the advice of a consulting group that identified Salt Lake County’s southwest quadrant as a rapidly expanding area with limited higher education resources.
Plans stalled after the land was locked down because the college was finishing other projects, she said, such as the Academic and Administration building on the Taylorsville/Redwood campus, and the Westpointe Education and Training Center near the Salt Lake City International Airport.
Even when SLCC was ready to make Herriman its priority in 2018, it had to wait for funding from the Legislature. The college has about $24 million to invest in the first building through a combination of its own resources, $5 million from the U. and philanthropic donations. It needed another $32 million from the state.
Funding was approved in the legislative session last year, but SLCC was one of several colleges and universities told they wouldn’t be able to keep their money because of the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.
The $32 million needed for the Herriman campus’ first building was included in this year’s Supplemental Appropriations Act, SB2.
Herriman residents have had the opportunity to enroll in some SLCC classes while the college waited for funding. The college opened shop in Herriman’s old city hall several years ago, Huftalin said, and class slots filled quickly with both high school students and adults.
Classes are continuing there, said SLCC spokesperson Joy Tlou said, although with modified schedules and capacities.