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Hutto higher education center brings growth to the area

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TWC News: Hutto higher education center brings growth to the area
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Construction along SH 130 could help spark growth in the City of Hutto.

The East Williamson County Higher Education Center construction site doesn't look like much now, but by next summer, it will be a big deal for the city.

"The first building site is 113,000 square feet. It'll be a three-story facility that has both instructional classrooms and technical labs," East Williamson County Higher Education Center spokesperson Robbin Ray said. "[We have] 57 acres. [So] we have quite a lot of space to build on, so this is the first building of many."

Next summer, the facility will have enough class space for 2,000 students, but officials hope to expand to 6,000 students in the future.

The Higher Education Center isn't new to Hutto, but they’ve never had their own space. Students have been taking classes at Veteran's Hill Elementary for the past year.

In May 2011, 72 percent of voters elected a $.05 tax increase to help fund construction of the education center's brand new facility.

"One of our largest tasks as a community is to get more Hutto-based employment and get diversity in our tax base instead of single-family residential developments," Hutto Economic Development Corp. Scott Martinez said.

Hutto experienced a population boom five years ago, but when the housing market collapsed, plummeting property values drove Hutto’s debt up to more than $50 million. The Hutto Economic Development Corporation believes the expansion of the East Williamson County Higher Education Center will propel economic growth.

"This will give us an instant influx of a daytime population that will help our retailers," Martinez said.

The first facility will create 50 jobs. While the work continues over the next year, taxpayers and officials hope the construction will help bring change to the city.

Classes begin at the East Williamson County Higher Education Center's new facility Sept. 2013. For more information visit EWCHEC.com.

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