Jacksonville University plans to expand into downtown Palm Coast, offering courses leading to bachelor’s degrees in nursing and master’s degrees in nursing, speech-language pathology, and clinical mental health counseling.

Palm Coast City Council voted 4-1 at its March 2 council meeting, with Councilor Ed Danko dissenting, to approve the terms of a forgivable loan agreement and a grant agreement to support the expansion of the university, known as the University of Jacksonville’s Palm Coast Campus Initiative. . The board had approved the overall funding amount – $ 2.5 million – in December 2020.

Of the total of $ 2.5 million, $ 1 million is a performance-grant loan from the city’s State Road 100 Community Redevelopment Agency, and the other $ 1.5 million is a reserve grant. of the General City Fund.

“I just want to publicly declare my opposition to this whole deal with Jacksonville University,” Danko said at the March 2 meeting. “It is a university that earns money by hand.… There is no reason we have to pay them to come to our city.”

No other board member commented on the matter before the 4-1 vote.

The loan, on terms approved by the board at the March 2 meeting, will be made in two transfers of $ 500,000 – the first occurring after the first week of school instruction at the new Palm Coast site, and the second occurring after the 16th week of academic teaching – and will be forgiven at a rate of $ 27,778 per month for 36 months starting August 1, 2021, as long as academic programming is provided.

The grant will also be distributed in two transfers, the first totaling $ 1 million and occurring after verification that the University of Jacksonville has secured a lease for offices in the downtown area for a period of at least three years, and the second, a disbursement of $ 500,000 occurring after the university submits verification that it has begun marketing, recruiting and researching faculty for programs planned for the Palm Coast location.

Students will start arriving from the fall semester 2021, and the university expects 100 to 150 full-time students within 24 months in the programs, according to a JU document on the expansion.

JU, a private liberal arts college founded in 1934 that currently enrolls 4,164 students, according to its webpage, plans to hire 15 full-time and 10 part-time staff for the Palm Coast Campus initiative. The JU initiative is separate from the MedNexus project planned by the University of North Florida in the downtown area, but will help fill the programming gaps offered by the UNF, Daytona State College, University of Aeronautics Embry Riddle and Bethune Cookman, according to the JU document.

“The Palm Coast initiative will make a significant contribution to the economic growth of the city of Palm Coast and the region by initially hiring 15 full-time and 10 part-time employees, training students who in turn will come to work. add to the local health workforce, ”said staff documents states.

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