Columbus Tech to open Robert L. Wright Jr. Health Sciences Center on Friday

The Robert L. Wright Jr. Health Sciences Center officially opens its doors Friday morning at Columbus Technical College with an invitation-only ceremony that is expected to draw more than 600 local residents and dignitaries.

The 78,000-square-foot facility — more than a decade in the making — is named in honor of Wright, a Columbus dentist, businessman and donor to the project. Some students began classes in the new three-story building last week.

More than $26 million was raised for the center, which will train a variety of students, ranging from nurses and dental hygienists to radiology and respiratory care specialists. The project was a mix of public and private money, with $10 million being raised from a “Tomorrow’s Workforce ... Today” campaign. The State of Georgia contributed $16.28 million to the facility.

“This state-of-the-art facility, that many believe to be the finest in our system and the region, tells our community that Columbus Technical College is committed to the long-term growth of its services while maintaining the highest standards possible in education and training,” Bob Jones, Columbus Tech’s president, said in a statement issued Thursday.

Construction firm Skanska completed the center, which is located at 4600 River Road and is adjacent to the main campus off Manchester Expressway.

Columbus Tech is one of 28 technical colleges in Georgia. The school’s enrollment is roughly 4,000, with nearly half of those in one of the health sciences programs.

— Tony Adams