Before a day of celebration, Austin Community College's new 65,000 square-foot Elgin campus needed a passing grade from the community.
"They were there every step of the way,” Richard Rhodes, president and CEO of ACC, said. “This is a great opportunity for their students to have access, to have a pathway to higher education."
And school leaders received just that. Hundreds gathered—including public officials—to welcome Bastrop County's first community college.
"Economic prosperity is going to be here and it's going to be here in large part as a result of this facility and what's going to happen as a result of this facility," Democratic Rep. Kirk Watson said.
Located on U.S. 290 near County Line Road, ACC purchased the 98 acres for $3.4 million. Construction cost the school system another $28 million--$27 million of which were paid for by local bonds.
Nineteen-year-old student April Ascencio says the cost is worth the investment.
"It may not be a top university, but it is an education and everyone should continue more than high school," she said.
Although the school is fully equipped with a traditional library, the Elgin campus is keeping up with the times. Students have access to online books, as well as online classes.
"It's going to be key for the students who will be able to get a good education so they can find good work,” Courtney Mliner, ACC’s chief librarian, said.
Officials said once they fill the first 1,500 student building, expect phase two campus expansion to follow.
One of the feature programs is ACC's new Sustainable Agriculture Entrepreneurship Program.
Classes currently are underway.