BHC 08232019 Virginia Business College 02

Gene Couch, president of the Virginia Business College, points out changes and renovations underway on campus in Bristol.

BRISTOL — Virginia Business College received a provisional certificate on Tuesday to operate from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.

While meeting in Richmond, the council approved a plan by college officials to establish a four-year private business school on the former campus of Virginia Intermont College in Bristol.

Gene Couch, the college’s president, called the approval a “significant step forward.”

“It’s like we’ve scored the touchdown; now we’ve got to kick the extra point,” Couch said.

With provisional approval, the college can now begin recruiting students and hiring staff.

This was the second time the council granted a provisional certificate for the college, but Couch said he withdrew the previous application this summer because the accompanying schedule to begin operations was too aggressive.

School officials now anticipate enrolling students for the first classes in August 2020.

Founded in 1884, Virginia Intermont closed in 2014 after suffering financial collapse, losing its accreditation and diminishing enrollment. The 147-acre campus and its numerous buildings have been vacant since .

Chinese entrepreneur Zhiting Zang acquired the property at auction and is developing it under the aegis of his U.S. Magis International Education Center.

Virginia Business College also plans to seek accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

The college plans to offer seven business concentrations to bachelor’s degree-seeking students: accounting, business analytics, entrepreneurship, human resource management, information technology management, management/leadership and marketing.

“We have posted three administrative positions. We look to start interviewing the next couple of weeks and hope to have those people on board Jan. 1,” Couch said. “We’re looking for a chief administrator, a chief academic officer and an individual who will lead our student enrollment management and student services.”

In addition, work continues on campus improvements .

“We still have some work to do, primarily with the library. We’ve got the outside done with new roof and new windows. We’ll be moving indoors to finish out that building, but otherwise things are progressing nicely,” he said.

Workers have been installing sidewalks and handrails and bringing restrooms up to federal Americans with Disabilities Act compliance standards.

The school can receive final approval only after the council visits and inspects the campus. That is expected next spring.

“We’ve got to finalize our 501(c)(3) [nonprofit] status. We made that application to the IRS and heard they’ve received it, so we’re waiting to hear back from them,” Couch said.

The Virginia Business College will primarily be a residential college but also will accommodate commuter students and online learners.

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