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New bachelor's and master's degree programs are expected to begin next year, as the Crossroads Institute in Galax expands into a 4,500-square-foot building located at 208 Cranberry Road — formerly the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints — adjacent to the Crossroads campus.
Crossroads officials say this acquisition will allow the institute to expand its training, education and business development capabilities.
The purchase was facilitated by a $300,000 grant from the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification Commission. In addition, interim financing was provided by the Carroll County Industrial Development Authority.
"This building will allow for six small rooms or two large rooms," said Crossroads Director Oliver McBride, noting its ability to house both conferences and training programs. "This is an exciting opportunity for us, and we're excited about what lies ahead."
McBride said organizers will be working on getting more grants to buy technology for the distance learning facility.
"We hope to receive distance learning courses and be a source for instruction," said McBride. "We want to be as up to date and technologically enabled as possible."
Though the Crossroads Institute has only been in operation for five years, it has already had a considerable impact on the economic and educational landscape of the Twin Counties. The Wytheville Community College branch in Galax has seen phenomenal growth in student enrollment and offerings since it relocated to Crossroads.
Full-time equivalent students doubled, from 150 to 300, since the opening of the facility in July 2005. About 700 students are taking at least one class at the Crossroads Institute, said McBride.
The Blue Ridge Crossroads Economic Development Authority is hosted at the institute, as is the Blue Ridge Crossroads Small Business Development Center, which has helped local small businesses raise more than $40 million in capital over the past five years.
The Wired Road Authority, a first-of-its-kind local broadband authority, was founded through a regional partnership formed as groups worked together at the institute.
The Southwest Regional Enterprise Center has opened institute space to small businesses, helping them get off the ground in a comfortable and supportive environment.
Always looking for opportunities to make itself more responsive to the community’s needs, Crossroads sought this new property to expand and deepen its programs. This new facility will help the institute’s partnership with the New College Institute to flourish, allowing local citizens to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Galax.
Galax Mayor C. M. Mitchell, chairman of the Crossroads board of directors, said, “In addition to the expansion of educational opportunities, the new space will also enhance the institute’s current small business and workforce development programs, and give Crossroads the ability to host conferences and larger meetings."
With the funding for the purchase of the property and initial renovation secured, a process that began early in 2010 is concluded. Additional funds to wire and equip the facility are being sought. A part of the long-term facility plan is for the property to be connected to the current site by a road that will provide access to Cranberry Road and the stoplight at U.S. 58.
Though the facility will begin to be used early in 2011, the Crossroads Institute hopes to have the new building fully equipped and operational by the beginning of the 2011–2012 school year.