The Friday morning rainfall didn’t keep the sun from shining on Greenville Technical College’s Greer campus.
Greenville Tech President Keith Miller said he could feel the sun and told others inside one of the campus buildings that they’d feel it too after the announcement of the college’s receipt of its largest cash gift ever.
The gift of $2 million, along with a pledge of an additional $1 million over five years, came from Jim Benson, president of The Benson Automotive Group.
“I spent my life here in Greer. I grew up here and I supported this school financially for the last 10 years, so it’s close to my heart,” Benson said.
In recognition of both gifts to the Greenville Tech Foundation, the campus has been renamed the Benson Campus, and Building 302 will bear the names of Evelyn and Jim Benson.
Benson said he got his start in Greer selling used cars he trucked in from Pennsylvania and later operating a used car lot on Poinsett Street. His automotive group now includes dealerships in Greer, Easley and Spartanburg.
“They’re going to expand this campus in the next 10 years,” Benson said. “They’re going to build on a wing, and it’s going to cost $8million. My gift will ultimately go to help pay for that.”
Miller said Bensons’ gift will help expand the Greer campus’ successful programs.
“They’re full and they need more space,” Miller said. “The Bensons’ gift is intended to help us make the campus more robust, grow the programs and the facilities that house them.”
Miller said the gift also will ensure that the Greer campus can continue to drive growth in Greer.
“This area has been transformed in recent years as it has become home to some of the world’s biggest names in business and industry including BMW and Mitsubishi Polyester Film,” he said.
“We work hard to prepare students to work for these companies and others and to ensure that employers have a ready supply of highly skilled job candidates.
“Jim’s investment in the Greer Campus is an investment in the Upstate, and we are very grateful for his generosity.”
The now-renamed Benson Campus opened at its current location in 1996 with 500 students.
About 1,700 students are enrolled there now.
The 110-acre campus at 2522 Locust Hill Road offers core programs, such as visual and performing arts, physical therapist assistant, occupational therapy assistant, health information management, personal trainer, pharmacy technician and massage therapy.