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Liberty University's $600-million makeover creates regional employment boost

By Tim Saunders, tsaunders@wdbj7.com
Published On: Oct 07 2013 04:47:59 PM EDT
Updated On: Oct 07 2013 10:48:29 PM EDT

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A new medical school at Liberty University will help meet the growing demand for doctors. The center for health sciences won't open until next fall, but it's already putting people to work.

LYNCHBURG, Va. -

If you live in Lynchburg or have been there recently, you know Liberty University is growing fast.

The school is undergoing a major transformation, tearing down old buildings and putting up new ones.  The work is generating hundreds of construction jobs.

A new medical school at Liberty University will help meet the growing demand for doctors.  The Center for Medical and Health Sciences won't open until next fall, but it's already putting people to work.

"It's very beneficial for us," said David Pearson, an assistant project manager for English Construction, the contractor in charge of building the medical school and a new eight-story residence hall at LU.

The two projects employ nearly 200 people.

"A lot of our people are from this area and they had been traveling away from Lynchburg to do projects," said Pearson.

On a different part of campus, Roanoke-based Branch and Associates is finishing work on the new Jerry Falwell Library.

When the $50-million building is finished, the company will stay at Liberty to take on even more work.

"We are under contract right now for at least five more projects," said Kelly Alderman, senior superintendent for Branch and Associates.

Those projects include a new science building, a school of music, and a 1,500 car parking deck.

"We should be on campus with just what we've got under contract now through 2016," Alderman said.

That's three years of regular paychecks for hundreds of local families.

"We're very excited anytime we can keep the work local and help the folks who live in this area," said Charles Spence, director of planning and construction for Liberty University.

With Liberty continuing to grow, companies like English construction believe the jobs will continue.

"If the two projects we're working on go as well as they look like they're going right now, I definitely see us in line for more work," said Pearson.

The economic impact reaches well beyond Lynchburg.  For every one contractor Liberty works with, 60 to 70 sub-contractors are also getting business.  Everyone from steel fabricators to brick manufacturers are cashing in on LU's business.

Liberty is spending more than $600-million on its campus overhaul.  School leaders expect major construction to continue through at least 2019.