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Zucker family gives $6M for S.C. Aeronautical Training Center

Ashley Heffernan
  • Ashley Heffernan
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The most public wing of the S.C. Aeronautical Training Center will be named “Zucker Hall” in honor of the Zucker family’s $6 million donation. (Rendering/Trident Technical College)

All of the $80 million needed to build the S.C. Aeronautical Training Center at Trident Technical College has been secured, but that didn’t stop a prominent Charleston family from adding more money to the pot.

The Zucker family donated $6 million to the Trident Technical College Foundation earlier this month to ensure the center stays in operation once it opens in fall 2019. In return, the college will name the most public wing of the center “Zucker Hall.”

Anita Zucker (right), CEO of The InterTech Group, and her family donated $6 million to the Trident Technical College Foundation to help support the S.C. Aeronautical Training Center. Zucker made the announcement earlier this month with Trident President Mary Thornley (left). (Photo/Trident Technical College)Anita Zucker, CEO of The InterTech Group, said the family made the donation because of its belief in “tikkun olam,” a Hebrew phrase that means “repairing the world.”

“When you give a person education, you give them an opportunity in their life,” she said. “They can open any door and make any choice if they have an education. The best part about this aeronautical training center is it’s really not only about aeronautical training, because it will be teaching the latest and the greatest skills in advanced manufacturing.”

The 224,000-square-foot center, to be built at Trident Tech’s main campus in North Charleston, will house the college’s aeronautical studies programs and readySC training for advanced manufacturing employers, including Boeing South Carolina. The center will have classroom and laboratory space, as well as open bays for aircraft, large aircraft parts and training aids, according to a news release.

Students will learn aircraft assembly and maintenance, composite materials, avionics, mechatronics, robotics and automation, and additive manufacturing, also called industrial 3-D printing, the news release said. 

“We have so many different opportunities in manufacturing coming up. We need our people to have jobs,” Zucker said. “We need successful members of our community, and if we get them jobs that pay decently, they can become successful citizens. We need to give them access and opportunity. Having this facility provides the access and the opportunity, and it’s affordable.”

The majority of the $6 million will be used to help fund the facility’s operations once it’s opened, Zucker said. But $500,000 of the total was pledged by the family as a matching challenge. If an additional $500,000 is raised to match it, the $1 million will be used to pay for a solar roof on the center’s aircraft hangar to decrease electricity costs.

As of mid-November, the Trident Technical College Foundation had raised $300,000 toward the match, with Home Telecom, Charleston Development Board Foundation and C&A Unlimited Inc. each donating $100,000, the news release said. The development board, chaired by Y.W. Scarborough III, works to increase manufacturing, payrolls and investments in the Lowcountry, according to its mission statement. C&A Unlimited Inc. is owned by Carolyn Hunter, who is owner-operator of three area McDonald’s restaurants and serves on the Trident Technical College Foundation board.

“I’m just extremely excited because I need a workforce for my own businesses,” Zucker said. “I know the needs of this community, and I know that this is an institution that works with our economic development community to make certain that we have a workforce.”

The $6 million donation is the largest the college has ever received. Previously, the record was $1 million by both the Zucker family in 2012 and Hunter in 2011.

“The Zucker family runs one of the largest privately held companies in the state. Because they have such a deep understanding of workforce challenges and opportunities, the Zuckers focus much of their attention, talent and philanthropy on educational issues,” Trident Technical College President Mary Thornley said in the news release. “This gift will be absolutely transformational for Trident Tech students who will benefit from the opportunities this amazing family is making possible.”

Reach Ashley Heffernan at 843-849-3144.

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