Jacksonville University is working with the city of Palm Coast to establish a health care education campus in a Community Redevelopment Area and Innovation District within Palm Coast Town Center.
Palm Coast City Council is scheduled to vote Dec. 15 on a proposal to approve a $1.5 million grant and a $1 million forgivable loan to the university for the project.
“It’s a move toward economic development,” said Matthew Morton, Palm Coast city manager.
When the agreement is approved, JU will build-out a 6,000-square-foot space in an existing building to create classrooms, labs and office space, said Matthew Swanson, JU vice president of finance and business operations.
The Flagler County site will be the first campus outside Jacksonville in the institution’s 86-year history.
The grant and loan also would be used to provide for 20-30 staff at an average annual salary of $67,000; technology resources; and marketing and recruitment support.
In addition to an accelerated bachelor’s in nursing program, JU plans to offer master’s degrees in speech language pathology and clinical mental health counseling as well as graduate nurse leadership and specialty practitioner programs.
After two years of research, Palm Coast was selected for the area’s population trends and workforce and student demands, said Margaret Dees, JU senior vice president of economic development.
“We think this will strengthen the whole region. There are all the right factors,” Dees said.
JU Provost Christine Sapienza said students will be recruited for the degree programs from Palm Coast schools and may receive part of their training in hospitals there and in Daytona Beach.
“It’s like what we do in Jacksonville. We want to be close to the industry. This project relied on finding the right partner,” Sapienza said.
The faculty and administrative support staff will be dedicated hires for the Palm Coast program so the expansion will not stretch JU’s resources in Jacksonville.
“We hope they’ll make Palm Coast their home,” Sapienza said.
The university plans to begin recruiting and enrolling students in the spring that will begin classes in fall 2021. JU anticipates the program will have an enrollment of at least 100 students after two years with plans to expand the campus as enrollment increases.
JU’s Keigwin School of Nursing experienced nearly 60% enrollment growth in the past five years and the School of Applied Health Sciences had nearly 230% growth in the same period.
“We don’t think it will take long for us to outgrow the space,” Swanson said of the Palm Coast campus.