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Forsyth Tech begins $13 million drive

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By Todd Cohen

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Forsyth Technical Community College has trained employees for over 600 companies since it was founded 45 years ago.

Now, the Winston-Salem school is looking to those companies to help it raise $13 million to quadruple its $1 million endowment and build a $10 million Center for Emerging Technologies at the new Piedmont Triad Research Park.

Co-chaired by Edwin L. Welch Jr., president of I.L. Long Construction, and Don deBethizy, president and CEO of Targacept, the fundraising drive already has raised nearly $9 million since starting its quiet phase last year.

Funds raised so far include $3 million approved by state lawmakers last year for the new center, which will total 55,000 square feet, and $5.7 million in private support.

The R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Foundation made the biggest gift so far, $1.25 million in unrestricted funds.

Forsyth Tech, which reactivated its foundation eight years ago, has raised $7 million since then for endowed scholarships, new technology, and faculty and staff support, says Shari Covitz, vice president for institutional advancement at the school and executive director of the Forsyth Tech Foundation.

She says the new drive also has boosted annual giving by alumni, who gave over $46,000 in the fiscal year ended June 30, 2005, up from more than $19,000 a year earlier.

The drive also has given Forsyth Tech the opportunity to reach out to companies for which it has provided employee training and educated prospective employees, Covitz says.

It also has generated bigger gifts from corporations, although their annual giving fell to just over $23,000 in the most recent fiscal year, down from just over $45,000 the previous year, Covitz says.

In the new public “community partners” phase of the drive, she says, the school will reach out to the full range of businesses it serves with more than 160 training programs.

Those programs range from training allied health professionals to training people for information-systems and paralegal jobs.

The school, for example, handles the initial screening and traiing for all employees for the Dell’s Winston-Salem plant, and helps employees of Reynolds American make the transition to Winston-Salem from its Macon, Ga., operation.

And in July it will begin training middle-managers for Gazprom, which is based in Volgograd, Russia, and is the largest oil and gas company in the world, on how to do business in a western culture, Covitz says.

The new drive also has generated planned gifts that typically involve deferred contributions or assets other than cash, a fundraising strategy that Covitz says will continue after the drive is concluded at the end of this year,

In addition to housing its corporate-training program, the new Center for Emerging Technologies will serve as home to Forsyth Tech’s biotechnology program, the largest at a North Carolina community college; its nanotech program, the only one at a community college in the state; a high-performance computing program; a new center for digital design that Forsyth Tech is developing in partnership with Winston-Salem State University and the N.C. School for the Arts; and the school’s small business center now located at the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce.

Other big donors to the drive include BB&T, I.L. Long Construction, LSB, Sara Lee Branded Apparel, Southern Community Bank, Wachovia, Winston-Salem Foundation, John Wesley and Anna Hodgin Hanes Foundation, and James G. Hanes Memorial Fund.

Individual donors who have made large gifts include L.M. “Bud” Baker, retired Wachovia chairman and CEO, and Grover Shugart, CEO of Shugart Enterprises and a member of the Forsyth Tech Foundation board.

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