It may have been six years in the making, but that official blue ribbon was cut Thursday to introduce the newly built headquarters for Coastal Pines Technical College.

Located adjacent to Golden Isles Career Academy, the $13.5 million, two-story building in northern Glynn County will serve as a 53,000 square foot educational arena of classrooms in studies such as cosmetology, marketing management, medical coding, paramedic technology, practical nursing and massage therapy, among other focuses. In addition to the building, the facility also offers a 2,000 square foot commercial truck driving classroom located onsite.

Although the building has been open since January, it was celebrated Thursday with local and state officials speaking to the magnitude the college has to its 13-county region in coastal and southeast Georgia.

Prior to the new building, Coastal Pines offered courses mainly in the Golden Isles Career Academy. While some Coastal Pines courses will still be offered at the Golden Isles Career Academy location, most administrative offices and courses will be provided in the new space.

Coastal Pines came as a result of a merger two years ago, when Altamaha Technical College combined with Okefenokee Technical College to create a far-reaching educational pathway for students to earn workforce skills, such as welding, truck driving and nursing assistant, which Coastal Pines President Glenn Deibert cited as being much needed skills for the state.

Officials attending the ribbon cutting and building tour agreed, noting Gov. Nathan Deal has more than once said such workforce training opportunities are much needed tools for enhancing Georgia.

Within five years, more than 60 percent of jobs in Georgia will require a college certificate or degree, but currently, only 42 percent of the state’s young workforce have an academic credential beyond high school, Deibert said.

Coastal Pines serves as a student-centered learning environment with more than 200 members of faculty and staff, offering 140 academic programs and seven instructional sites.

Workforce development is the school’s mission, and its employees work daily to affect positive change in southeast Georgia and beyond, Deibert said.

“This is one more jewel in the crown of southeast Georgia and our state as a whole,” said Rep. Alex Atwood, who was present at Thursday’s ribbon cutting. “This facility represents hours of work and is a symbol of all the opportunity being now offered to our residents and employers.”

Already, the college is seeing benefits from having the free-standing location, with 300 students enrolled for the summer session and an increase in student applications already flowing in for the next semester, Deibert said.

“We know we are seeing an influx in students,” he said. “Not just this building, but this school as a whole, serving all the counties in this region, is having a huge impact on the community and our economy. We are training, highly-training, the hands that will mold our future in terms of industry, manufacturing and our overall workforce.”

With the ribbon on the classroom space now cut, Deibert has his eyes looking south, hoping to build a similar facility at a Coastal Pines Camden County location. That is something State Rep. Jason Spencer, R-Woodbine, would welcome with open arms.

“We are excited about this new venture, to have Coastal Pines set up in Camden,” he said. “It would benefit the college and it would benefit the residents and workforce of the county and state as a whole. That is our new goal, to have Coastal Pines find a home with us.”

Reporter Anna Hall writes about education and other local topics. Contact her at ahall@thebrunswicknews.com, on Facebook or at 265-8320, ext. 322.