UF joins economic growth initiative

The project provides grants to firms involved in areas such as aviation and aerospace, information technology and medical technology.

Published: Tuesday, January 4, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 3, 2005 at 11:30 p.m.
The University of Florida is joining two Central Florida universities in an economic development initiative designed to build a business triangle of sorts of high-tech industries and to train a work force to support them.
The Florida High Tech Corridor Council - until now a partnership between the University of Central Florida in Orlando, the University of South Florida in Tampa and Central Florida economic development organizations - is an initiative created in 1996 to provide research grants to companies involved in aviation and aerospace, information technology, medical technology, microelectronics, optics and photonics.
"The work that has been done by UCF and USF is groundbreaking economic development strategy, and we see a bright future working together," UF President Bernie Machen said.
UF has pledged to invest $2 million annually in the Corridor Council's matching grant research program, which over the past eight years has helped support more than 500 projects spread among 215 companies. More than 1,000 graduate and research students and 300 faculty members have worked alongside scientists and engineers from those companies.
"Companies in our region and those that wish to come here will find that this partnership is greatly enhanced by the collaboration of our three institutions," UCF President John Hitt said.
Toward its goal, the Corridor Council has partnered with 12 local economic development organizations in 21 counties, 12 community colleges, public school systems and numerous high tech companies.
With UF's involvement, Alachua and Putnam counties will be added to the list of participating consortium counties which includes Brevard, Citrus, DeSoto, Flagler, Hardee, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Lake, Levy, Manatee, Marion, Orange, Osceola, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota, Seminole, Sumter and Volusia.
UF, as the state's largest research university, could help facilitate additional economic development in the region.
"Our ability to bring them together with our local economic development partners and the community colleges that serve the region is an unmatched tool," Council President Randy Berridge said.
"Now, we look forward to expanding this partnership to include UF and its network and leveraging the strengths of three universities for the benefit of the entire Florida High Tech Corridor."
Janine Young Sikes can be reached at 337-0327 or sikesj@ gvillesun.com.

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