UF satellite campus moves closer to reality but questions still remain

Location and timeline still up in the air

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A proposal to build a new UF satellite campus in Jacksonville is one step closer to reality.

On Tuesday, the city’s finance committee unanimously passed the proposal to provide a $20 million grant toward the project which would be the first installment of a $50 million city commitment.

This would be a major undertaking. UF is proposing building a campus of about 15 acres in the heart of Jacksonville to serve an estimated population of about 10,000 students by its first decade in operation.

Over the past few days, stakeholders have been hammering out a deal to try and make that happen.

The vision for the new “Fintech Graduate Education Center” is to create a place where new generations of leaders in healthcare, business, and engineering come to learn.

UF vice president of government and community relations addressed the city’s finance committee Tuesday.

“One of the real opportunities is how the AI research from our faculty and students and the AI savvy graduates that we’re producing can dovetail what’s happening here in economies like Jacksonville,” Mark Kaplan said.

The city would provide a $50 million investment in the project over three years, with UF pledging $100 million from other sources.

The project would be located within two miles of the boundaries of the Downtown Investment Authority community redevelopment area seen here in green although an exact location has not been pinpointed.

Councilmember Matt Carlucci said he thinks the campus would be an investment in Jacksonville’s future.

“I think putting an institution in a place where opportunity is needed the most is a value that we should all rally behind,” he said.

Council auditor Phillip Peterson noted the proposed agreement wouldn’t allow the city to recoup its investment if the project isn’t completed or falls behind on its deadline.

“There are no clawbacks in this agreement. Once the city’s dollars leave the city, they have left,” he said.

Carlucci said while he would like to see clawbacks, he doesn’t think UF is an organization that would let down its end of the bargain.

“Last thing y’all want to do is come here and fail on a project,” Carlucci said.

The final decision on whether the project moves forward will be up to the full Jacksonville City Council.

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I-TEAM and general assignment reporter