Funding for new SCTI campus approved in state budget

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Posted: Tuesday, June 3, 2014 5:45 pm

SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. -- Governor Rick Scott signed the state budget Monday, and while some Suncoast groups fell victim to the veto pen, others did not. $3 million from the budget will go toward a new Sarasota County Technical Institute campus in South Sarasota County.

The end goal is creating jobs.

"The approval of the funds the last piece to build a campus, just like the one in Sarasota, in North Port," says SCTI director Todd Bowden.

The millions approved by the state for the new campus will go along with $18 million the Sarasota County School Board has already set aside for the build. “The allocation is really important to us. Without it, I don't know if we have a viable project in North Port."

Bowden says North Port has the demographics and population that just makes sense. "We draw a lot of students out of North Port. They are the largest sender for our high school program."

High school students are just a part of it though. The campus will be centered around adult education.

Senator Nancy Detert, who helped push for the project, recently said there are 285,000 job openings in the state, while plenty are looking for work. Unfortunately there is a huge skills gap.

Bowden says that's what they can fix. "We have really gotten traction with our career in a year. With a year of training there are jobs here in this community that are good jobs. I think that appeals to a lot of folks."

Those looking to bring jobs to North Port have some ideas.

“Focus on the medical, industrial, medical, and the high-tech." Peter Bartolotta heads the North Port Economic Development Corporation. He says being able to provide skilled workers should bring businesses calling. "To be able to say we have the resources to be able to customize training through an ACTI, through a State College of Florida. We are starting to create a hub of education here."

Right now the school district is keeping quiet on where the campus would go. We are told somewhere in the Toledo Blade corridor area is where they are looking to open, sometime between late 2016 or early 2017.

"It is kind of a seal of approval to what we have done here on the Sarasota campus that they want us to continue to do what we are doing down in North Port," says Bowden.

$1 million of those approved funds will actually go towards North Port’s second public library, which will be built on the SCTI campus.

The budget approval also brings funds for other local projects. Money to help clean up Dona Bay in Nokomis, more than a million dollars for coastal behavioral healthcare, as well as funding for First Step Addiction recovery services, Selby gardens, USF, and the State College of Florida, to name a few.

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