In advance of the April 7 election, the leaders of Ozarks Technical Community College provided specifics about what will happen if voters in Camdenton opt to join the OTC taxing district.

They agreed to build a comprehensive, free-standing campus — at a cost of up to $20 million — inside the Camdenton school district, near Lake of the Ozarks.

In addition to the general education courses required for a two-year degree, OTC plans to start technical and allied health programs based on the workforce needs identified by local businesses and industries.

The college predicts it will serve an average of 800 students annually by its third year.

"We are exciting about the prospect. It's an exciting time for the lake," said OTC Chancellor Hal Higdon. "It is a decision they get to make."

To join the OTC taxing district, Camdenton voters must approve a tax levy of 20 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, or $40 a year on a house valued at $100,000, during the April 7 election.

Higdon said if the ballot measure passes, Camdenton residents enrolled at OTC will be able to pay the in-district tuition rate starting with the summer semester. Currently, the rate for general education courses is $164 per credit hour, while in-district students pay just $113 per credit hour.

Simultaneously, OTC will begin to search for a parcel of up to 20 acres for the campus with the goal of opening by April 2022.

"We have been very clear we will not look for property, we will not talk about property, we will not even think about property until the vote happens," he said. "As soon as we identify the property, we would buy it. We'd start working with an architect to get it designed."

Higdon said the new campus will be similar in size to the Table Rock or Richwood Valley campuses. "As far as appearance, when we design the building and build the building, it will be unique to the lake."

He said scheduling is based on the needs of students. For example, there is virtually no demand for evening classes in Branson, but that is one of the busiest times for classes in Lebanon.

The implementation of specific technical and allied health programs will be based on the needs of employers and job market research conducted by OTC. So far, college officials have noted interest in HVAC, construction, marine maintenance, and a range of medical programs including nursing.

"We are not going to put a program in that we don't think there are jobs for," he said.

Higdon said the college wants to be flexible enough to respond when a need arises. For example, a line worker training program in Lebanon was created in response to industry leaders that reached out to OTC about a shortage.

OTC also wants to complement but not necessarily replicate signature programs offered by existing K-12 and higher education institutions. Higdon said OTC will seek to partner with those entities on various programs.

Currently, the college has 200 students enrolled from the lake region. To reach the 800 mark in the first three years, the college plans to pull from different areas.

Matt Simpson is the director of research, strategic planning and grant development. He said there are typically at least 300 high school seniors in Camdenton.

"We look at the high school graduating classes. We expect, based on past performance, to get 40 to 50 percent of those," he said.

Students may go full time for two years and graduate with an associate's degree, go for one year to obtain a certificate, or work full time and go to OTC part time over a period of several years.

"That cumulatively builds," he said.

Simpson said if enrollment at the new campus is similar to the other OTC campuses, it will pull students directly from Camdenton as well as those in neighboring communities within a short drive.

OTC plans to gain high school students through dual enrollment and pull from the adult population.

Simpson said he uses a conservative formula to figure out how many adults may enroll. It is roughly 3 percent of adults, over age 25 without a post-secondary degree who want to find a job or who are working but want a better-paying job.

In Camdenton, as it has at other communities, OTC would plan to work with employers to offer job-specific training programs. Those are typically short-term.

"We wouldn't expect to open with 800," he said of the projected enrollment. "Based on prior experience, we'd expect to get to the 800 number by year three."