The Lee County Board of Commissioners approved the purchase of the Magneti Marelli building for use by Central Carolina Community College in the future.

The Lee County Board of Commissioners voted Monday to purchase the Magneti Marelli building on behalf of Central Carolina Community College to use as a workforce training center.

The college board of trustees asked the county to approve up to $7.4 million to purchase the building at 2101 Nash St., between Broadway Road and the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center, along with 22 acres.

“We are looking at expanding our services into a manufacturing solutions center for the region,” Dr. Lisa Chapman, CCCC president, told the commissioners.

“We would like to expand our instructional offerings and move programs on the main campus now to the Marelli property,” she said.

That would free up classrooms at the college’s main campus along Kelly Drive and also provide space to house the Lee County Early College Program. The program for advanced high school students now meets in pods at the back of the college, Chapman said.

College officials are also proposing to relocate two innovative work programs now housed in facilities in the Central Carolina Enterprise Park to the Marelli site, she said.

That includes the Howard-James Industry Training Center and the Center for Workforce Innovation.

The Marelli site would serve as the training center for advanced, biotech and ag tech programs, Chapman said.

All three areas are continuing to grow in Lee County as more business and industry is recruited to the area, she said.

“This would ensure that companies that are expanding, companies that are developing and companies that may be in transition will have resources right at hand in terms of training, customized training and resources through office space to meet training needs,” Chapman said.

She called the site an “ideal location” for the college programs.

“It makes good sense to us. We can consolidate services at the main campus and serve the community for many years in the future,” Chapman said.

The Marelli property is adjacent to the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center, which is another benefit, she said.

That allows officials looking to relocate to the area to visit the workforce center without having to travel off the campus, she said.

Marelli, a powertrain automotive manufacturer, opened its 97,000 square-foot Sanford plant in 1976. The company announced in December that it was shutting down the local operation in late 2021 and moving operations to Mexico.

The commissioners agreed to lease the building to Marelli for up to one year to allow for the move.

Forge Investment Group has an option on the property, which includes about 66 acres, and agreed to assign the portion containing the 22 acres and building to the county.