Builder donates to SFCC

Published: Wednesday, October 1, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, September 30, 2003 at 11:12 p.m.
Biotechnology and medical-related training will be the focus of a new Santa Fe Community College campus to be built across from the tech-heavy Progress Center in the city of Alachua and boosted with a $1.2 million donation from Gainesville builder Charles Perry.
The campus will be designed to create employees for the technology companies that are growing in Alachua, SFCC President Jackson Sasser said.
"If you look at one really rich growth area for the areas we serve, the whole area of biotechnology and biomedical is an area most people support - these are good quality, nonpolluting jobs and Santa Fe needs to be part of providing technicians all the way through people in graduate programs," Sasser said. "There is a spirit and openness and can-do and providing jobs for those who don't have jobs in Alachua."
Perry, an SFCC trustee, could not be reached for comment, but college officials said his donation is key to getting the long-planned campus built.
SFCC Senate President Ward Scott said the campus will be built on a tract of land now owned by the University of Florida.
It is across U.S. 441 from the Progress Center, home to biotech companies such as Regeneration Technology, and next to a building that houses various state agencies.
Scott said it will cost about $3.5 million and is expected to be completed in 2005. It will start out with 200 to 300 students with room for growth on five to 10 acres.
While biotechnology programs will be dominant, classes for basic education and other subjects will be available, Scott said.
"It would be a high-tech center, but there will also be room for remedial work. We would also have some certificate programs and would have some room for corporate training to partner with the businesses across the street," Scott said. "It is a logical thing to partner education, technology, contributions from the private section and cooperation from the university to build an economic base."
SFCC's main campus is in northwest Gainesville, and it has branches downtown and in Starke. Its most recent expansions are in Archer and Keystone Heights.
Sasser said the Alachua campus will require more money and planning than the others because of lab equipment and other technology items it will need.
He added that Perry's donation is a boost for the project.
"Trustee Perry and his wife, Nancy, are wonderful people and their agreeing to be a part of this was a real, real bonus," Sasser said. "We are in a real intense planning stage. We have to complete the transfer of the land from the UF Foundation, and we have to raise the additional funds to make it happen."
Cindy Swirko can be reached at 374-5024 or swirkoc@gvillesun.com.

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