By Holly Meyer, Staff Writer
Anyone that has driven from Hiawassee to campus has probably passed a series of trucks, orange cones and flags on your way back to Young Harris College. This construction site is right down the street from YHC and is soon to be the new base of operations for the Blue Ridge Mountain EMC or BRMEMC.
According to the EMC’s web page, North Georgia Network Cooperative or NGN has been awarded more than $33 million in federal stimulus funds to construct an ultra-high speed fiber optic network throughout northeast Georgia. NGN is a new nonprofit cooperative organized by county, as a way to improve services available to business and residential consumers throughout the region.
According to the EMC’s website, headquarters justifies the move because they are simply out of room and have been for quite some time. The lack of space has created difficult working conditions and has contributed to a rapid decline in the buildings and warehouses, which are being over-stressed and over used.
Also, there is not enough employee or customer parking space at the BRMEMC’s current location. This could potentially become a source of frustration for those customers who choose either to come inside the office to pay their bills or need direct customer service.
Mathew Akins, general manager for the Blue Ridge Mountain EMC, believes that the growing population of the area has directly caused the need for a newer and bigger location. He also says that need for so many employees to work the construction site has helped feed the local need for jobs.
BRMEMC has hired several local contracting businesses to work the site next to YHC. Some of these companies include, Gray Logging of Union County, Southern Concrete Materials of Union and Clay County, Byers Well Drilling of Union County and Shuler Clearing Company of Clay County.
“Before it was owned by the BRMEMC, the 104 acres next to Young Harris was owned by a multitude of people, and then bought collectively by BRMEMC,” said Akins.
But, what exaclty is going into all that space? Currently, the plans consist of a headquarters facility that will stand on a portion of a total 104 acres of land. The new headquarters facility will include new administration, operations, warehouse, garage and other critical facilities. It will include a “data bunker” that will house all of our critical servers and electronic devices. The site will have separate customer entrances and heavy equipment entrances, and the facility will have emergency egress onto Timberline Drive. Eventually, BRMEMC hopes to sell off unused portions of the acreage to interested parties, which in turn will allow the companny to pay down the overall debt for the facility.
“It should take another 12 to 14 months for the construction to be complete,” said Akins.
As far as the college is concerned, President Cox, states that this will not effect the college’s plan to expand as a four-year school and feels that it is a great addition to the local community.