WILMINGTON — Clinton County announced Monday it has purchased the Southern State Community College facility in Wilmington for $1.25 million for expanded office space.
For SSCC, this is part of its pivot toward more online course offerings and post-secondary education opportunities.
According to Clinton County Commissioners President Mike McCarty, the building will house offices for several county departments. These include all county departments currently located at the courthouse that are not related to the judicial (court system) branch of government.
“The commissioners have understood for several years that the citizens of the county needed convenient access to offices and that the courthouse space was becoming no longer conducive to non-court offices,” McCarty said.
SSCC set out in 2018 to identify partners to utilize its buildings more fully, according to college President Dr. Kevin Boys. When the campus closed in March 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions, the college began working in earnest to identify a local partner to buy the facility and use it for the community.
“The nature of the college is shifting,” said Boys. “Brick and mortar stores are going the same way — more robust online offerings are the future.”
Boys said while there will always be a need for face-to-face instruction and hands-on learning experiences, the college is reducing its physical footprint to pivot toward a new vision for accessibility.
“Thirty years ago, the college’s vision of accessibility meant geography,” said Boys. “Now, that includes when and how a student takes their course, not just where.”
But the college isn’t going anywhere, Boys said. In-person course offerings are still available at Wilmington College, Laurel Oaks, and in our county’s high schools. SSCC is continuing to find innovative ways to serve its students in the area.
McCarty said the sale is beneficial for both the college and the county.
“The acquisition of the Southern State campus by the county will be a great opportunity to improve taxpayer accessibility to county offices, improve operational efficiencies, and ensure the capacity for growth for decades to come,” said McCarty. “We appreciate Southern State’s commitment to ensuring the campus remains a productive part of our community and look forward to their continued presence and benefit to Clinton County.”
The more than 25 acres of land on which the campus sits were donated to SSCC in 1996 by the local Community Improvement Corporation, according to CIC Executive Director David Raizk. The CIC also contributed more than $200,000 for utilities and annexation at the time, he added.
“We’re sorry to see Southern State go … but we understand that education changes and there is less need for brick and mortar locations,” he said. “We understand that this will assist SSCC, and it’s also good for the county. This gives the county a chance to consolidate and free up space in the courthouse.”
Boys thanked Raizk and the CIC for their generosity and assistance in the sale process. “I so appreciate the vision and generosity surrounding the original donation of land by the CIC,” said Boys. “This became especially critical during the years surrounding the Great Recession. I’m equally appreciative of the CIC once again stepping forward to help the college and county realize a new vision for this terrific facility.”
“We appreciate the contribution of the CIC in the original donation of this land to ensure the development of this site for SSCC in our community, and for their ongoing support in keeping it for a public use,” McCarty said.
SSCC Board of Trustees Clinton County Chairman Brian Prickett thanked Boys, the CIC, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, the Board of Commissioners, Clinton County Prosecuting Attorney Andrew T. McCoy, and the College Trustees for their cooperation in the sale.
Prickett also thanked Wilmington College and Laurel Oaks for partnering with SSCC to provide classroom space in Clinton County.