Jacksonville-based CSX announced July 25 a $10 million contribution to the University of Florida to support a proposed health and financial technology graduate center in or near Downtown Jacksonville.
The charitable investment will be distributed over five years and solidifies CSX as the leading private funding partner of the project, according to a news release.
“We are proud to partner with the University of Florida and the City of Jacksonville on this ambitious project to establish a world-class graduate center in the city’s urban core,” Joe Hinrichs, CSX president and chief executive officer, said in the release.
“Investing in education is an investment in the future, and we believe this contribution will have a lasting impact on the region by fostering innovation, economic development, and creating bold new opportunities.”
At a Feb. 7 news conference at City Hall, Mayor Lenny Curry, UF President Ben Sasse and university Board of Trustees Chair Mori Hosseini announced the possibility of a UF graduate center in Jacksonville.
The Jacksonville City Council agreed in March to contribute $50 million over the next three years for the center estimated to cost $150 million to $200 million.
The proposed center received $75 million in the state’s 2023-24 budget signed into law June 15 by DeSantis.
The state’s contribution has been amplified by $62.5 million in gifts from industry and philanthropic supporters from across the region, according to the release.
Sasse said in the release the center will create high-skilled, high-tech employees.
“Jacksonville is a city on the move, and my administration is honored to continue to build on that momentum with one of the best public universities in the nation,” said Mayor Donna Deegan in the release.
“It’s a new day in Jacksonville, and both UF and vital partners like CSX will be a critical part of our important work to make Jacksonville a technology and innovation hub.”
The CSX donation is a key component in a public-private partnership that includes support from Gov. Ron DeSantis, the Florida Legislature and other Northeast Florida civic, community and industry leaders, the release said.
The university is moving forward with raising funds for the center’s next phase, which will include project development, potential site selection and programmatic evaluation.
“UF is ready for the next phase of this work and to lead the way toward making this shared vision a reality,” Hosseini said in the release.
“On behalf of the entire UF community, we are grateful to CSX and all those who are helping us advance this impactful and innovative opportunity in Northeast Florida. Our vision for this center is to leverage UF’s strengths in professional development and graduate education to future-proof Florida’s workforce.”