Southwestern Community College is a two-year college located in Sylva, North Carolina, an educational institution providing post-secondary education and lower-level tertiary education, granting certificates, diplomas, and associate's degrees. The school is a member of the 59-campus North Carolina Community College System.
The county responded, and began setting up training classes in local schools and in other county locations. The NC Board of Education provided needed equipment and logistics, and began hiring instructors, and an advisory panel was set up from local residents to oversee the project.
The genesis of the idea for a college in western North Carolina came out of those advisory group meetings, and coincidentally, the NC Board of Education was beginning negotiations with the Legislature to begin designating funds for a system of state technical colleges.
By 1963, Jackson County had obtained a 17 acre site for locating the college, and by May 1964, 90 percent of the block work for the building was completed, with local masonry students providing much of the labor. The students, predominantly local residents who had been taking introductory classes in the previously established trade schools, were ready for hands-on experience.
Work continued on the building until late 1965. The one-story structure consisted of five classrooms, four laboratory areas, five instructor offices, two administrative offices, three shop areas, a boiler room, and a coal storage area. The building, appraised at $120,000 when completed, was constructed at a cost of $70,000, principally because student labor helped keep expenses down. Jackson County Industrial Education Center was born as a satellite of Asheville-Buncombe Technical College.
In 1967, it was decided that two other local counties, Macon and Swain, would be included as part of the area which the school served. A new name, Southwestern Technical Institute, was chosen denoting this expanded area of operation, as the school would now be serving the entire southwestern area of the state. Application for independent status of Southwestern Technical College was approved by Governor Dan Moore, and on January 2, 1968, the school began operation under the North Carolina Department of Community Colleges as Southwestern Technical Institute with a budget of $131,000.
In 1970 Southwestern began the process to become accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and received that status in December 1971. It was also accredited by the North Carolina Board of Education in 1972, one of only 11 schools in the state to receive endorsement from both agencies.
Southwestern experienced large growth throughout the next three decades, and evolved into a full-fledged college providing technical training, college transfer, and adult education needs. In 1988, Southwestern Technical College became Southwestern Community College to better reflect its educational role in the community.
2007 saw the opening of the Macon Center, located in Franklin, North Carolina.