With fundraising almost complete, South Louisiana Community College set to begin building $17.1 million health and sciences building _lowres

Rendering provided by South Louisiana Community College -- Construction is expected to start this summer on South Louisiana Community College's new health and sciences building.

Construction is set to begin in Lafayette this summer on South Louisiana Community College’s health and sciences building, which will provide room to quadruple admissions to the college’s dual-enrollment academy for high-schoolers.

The college on Monday announced it finished raising $2.1 million for the $17.1 million project. The remainder is funded by a 2013 legislative act devoting $250 million to construction projects within the Louisiana Community and Technical College System — with the stipulation the schools raise part of the money on their own.

SLCC raised 12.5 percent of the project’s cost from private donors.

A $20,000 donation from COX Communications closed the gap, allowing the project to move forward after about a year of fundraising, SLCC spokeswoman Christine Payton said.

The Lafayette Parish School System topped the donor list with a $1 million contribution. Another $700,000 contribution came from the Lafayette Public Trust Financing Authority; $210,000 from the Lafayette Economic Development Authority; $100,000 from an anonymous donor; $10,000 from MidSouth Bank; $5,000 from Sleep Management, LLC; and $2,500 from Whitney Bank.

COX also made a $12,000 in-kind contribution to wire the building with fiber.

The next financial phase of the project involves another fundraising campaign to name the building and to secure funding for tech upgrades, equipment, maintenance and endowed professorships and scholarships, Payton said.

Although a specific ground-breaking date has not been set, the building is expected to be in operation by the fall 2016 semester.

The three-story, 63,000-square foot building with instructional capacity for 1,000 students will be anchored by SLCC’s fledgling registered nursing program. Its practical nursing and allied health programs will also be moved to the building, along with the school’s administrative offices and STEM classes.

Amenities will include a 250-person-capacity auditorium, conference and class rooms, a virtual hospital, and computer, health care and wet and dry science labs.

Once students, faculty and administration move into the new building, enrollment at the Early College Academy — housed in the main Devalcourt building on campus — will have the capacity to enroll 1,000 students, Payton said.

Current enrollment in the academy, which enables students in grades 9-12 to graduate with both a diploma and an associate’s degree, is at about 250.

“Each graduating class saves Lafayette families more than $1.6 million in tuition and fees, plus they are ready for the workforce two years earlier,” SLCC Chancellor Natalie Harder said in a statement.

Follow Lanie Lee Cook on Twitter, @lanieleecook, or contact her by phone at (337) 534-0825.