Due to the phenomenal growth of business, IT and entrepreneurial activities in downtown Gainesville, Santa Fe College has plans to expand the Blount Center to better serve residents and businesses in the area and improve partnerships.
For Santa Fe College to continue assisting in this remarkable urban development, a three-story 50,000 square-foot facility is proposed on the site of the current Santa Fe College Blount Center. The current center, which has reached its operating capacity, was originally a 1950s retail building with 8,000 square feet that has been remodeled as a business incubator.
“When completed, our expanded Blount Center, in combination with the Gainesville Technology Entrepreneurship Center, will enable Santa Fe College to provide greater service to East Gainesville residents,” said Santa Fe College President Dr. Jackson N. Sasser. “Our center will offer more academic and student services. In addition, the Blount Center will assume a larger role in collaborating with the University of Florida on its commitments to innovation and entrepreneurship.”
The new Blount Center building will include ground-floor, public-private space allowing for expansion of SF’s Center for Innovation and Economic Development (CIED) business incubator, as well as a full array of student services offices. The second and third floors will house classrooms and state-of-the-art labs—needed for IT-related disciplines—designed in collaboration with area employers, in order to optimize relevance to area workforce needs.
Several of SF’s existing associate and bachelor’s degree programs currently offered at the Northwest Campus will be moved to the Blount Center when the expansion is complete. These programs include those with a direct connection to Gainesville’s growing business community, such as business, insurance services, digital media technology, and organizational management and health services administration, among others.
Early phases of Blount Center construction have been funded largely through private donations, grants and the Santa Fe College Foundation. The Blount Center expansion is currently on the CIP-3 list for Santa Fe College with a total proposed construction cost of $16.7 million.
“We look forward to receiving resources over the next few years that will allow our downtown campus to serve local residents at a higher level and in doing so provide them with greater opportunities,” Sasser said.