College News

CCCC's West Harnett Center serves rural area

Click to enlarge CCCC's West Harnett Center serves rural area

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Vanessa Cox as she prepares client Chris Garrett, of Fayetteville, for a haircut. Barbering is one ... (more)

Click to enlarge CCCC's West Harnett Center serves rural area

click to enlarge ⊗

Central Carolina Community College's West Harnett Center, located at 145 Olive Farm Road in the rural ... (more)

03.27.2013College & CommunityCurriculum ProgramsFacilities/Buildings

SANFORD - Vanessa Cox, a retired Army medic who served two tours in Iraq, was looking for a barbering program that would fit the demands of her roles as wife and mother.

Now a second-semester student in Central Carolina Community College's Barbering program at the college's West Harnett Center, Cox said she not only found the flexibility she needed, but a powerful support system as well.

"When I found CCCC online the hours and location initially attracted me," said Cox, who will graduate from the program in the fall of 2013. "But once I got here, I found the staff, their knowledge and people skills, are just off the scale. The instructors and administration have an understanding of my situation, the demands of my family, and they push me to succeed."

Cox, who said her dream is to be an entrepreneur, owning not just one, but a chain of barbershops, talked extensively to Walter Cotton, director of the barbering program and site supervisor at the Center.

"I picked his brain about being an entrepreneur," she said. "He has encouraged me and assisted me all the way. The program here is phenomenal."

Located in the rural western part of the county, CCCC's West Harnett Center was designed to meet the needs of a broad spectrum of students and businesses. Today, five years after it opened in Sept. 2008, this educational resource reports record growth and more than a number of success stories.

"The center is in a remote area of the county because we wanted to be able to serve and reach out to the residents," said Cotton. "It's just a better, more economical way to serve our students and the community."

Offering a curriculum that includes a GED program, barbering, English as a Second Language, welding, diesel mechanics and lawn and garden training, the 8,500-square-foot facility currently serves approximately 125 students through day and evening classes. The Center is well equipped for the student population, containing a 24-station computer lab and an industrial training lab for workforce development. On the horizon is a program on sustainable agriculture and agriculture classes geared toward Hispanic students.

The Barbering program alone has reported tremendous success, said Cotton. The program was the first community college program to be established in North Carolina and still maintains its record of being one of the state's top-rated barbering programs, public or private.

But beyond excellent academic training, Cotton attributes the success of the West Harnett Center to the school's grass roots philosophy.

"We believe in training a workforce that will meet the needs of the community," he said. "We believe in ourselves, in our students and in our instructors - and that by working together as a team, we can help make students ready to go out into the real world."

Bill Tyson, CCCC's Harnett County provost, added that West Harnett Center embodies a way for the College to meet the challenges of serving the fast growing western reaches of the county. The proximity of Ft. Bragg is helping to drive population, housing, and business growth. Businesses serving west Harnett will need training for their workforces. Harnett is among the fastest growing counties in the state. Much of that growth is in the rural western section.

Development of the West Harnett Center began in 2003 when the Harnett Forward Together Committee donated 15 acres in the then-new Western Harnett Industrial Park to Central Carolina Community College.

The construction of the center was funded by $1 million from the 2000 state bond referendum, a $647,620 grant from the North Carolina Community College System and $325,200 in county funding. The groundbreaking took place in September 2007 and the Center opened in September 2008.

At the 2008 ribbon cutting, Dr. Bud Marchant, president of Central Carolina Community College, said that, even before he became college president, he was delighted to see the West Harnett Center rising in an industrial park.

"I was floored that this facility was located in an industrial park," Marchant said. "I said, what genius thought of that? Serving workforce needs is what community colleges do."

CCCC's Western Harnett Center offers the training for an Associate of Applied Sciences degree, diploma or certificate in barbering. Instruction in Career and College Readiness (formerly Basic Skills) such as GED, Adult High School, and English as a Second Language are offered at the Center, along with a variety of continuing education courses.

For more information on the programs offered by Central Carolina Community College's West Harnett Center, contact Walter Cotton, site supervisor and director of the Barbering Program, at 919-498-1210 or e-mail him at