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Jacksonville University Campus Coming to Palm Coast

City Council approves a $2.5M economic development incentive package which will bring a satellite Jacksonville University campus to Palm Coast's Town Center.

By Toby Tobin

PALM COAST, FL –December 15, 2020 – The Palm Coast City Council today approved a $2.5M economic development incentive package that will bring a satellite Jacksonville University (JU) campus to Palm Coast Town Center. At the same meeting, the council voted on the second reading to approve a hospital/medical campus on the west side of US Route 1, opposite the west end of Palm Coast Pkwy.

JU is a private liberal arts university with bachelors, masters, doctoral, and post-doctoral programs. Student enrollment exceeds 4,000 with students from 47 states and 51 countries.

When combined with the recent approval of MedNex, these approvals represent a three-pronged initiative to focus Palm Coast’s economic future on the healthcare industry. Healthcare fits our county’s demographics and offers well-paying jobs, averaging $60,000 to $70,000, well above the county’s current median income. NIMBYs do not want affordable housing within miles but should welcome well paid, highly trained healthcare workers in their back yard.

Housing affordability has two sides: the median income and housing costs. Bringing housing costs down seems to be a knotty problem but raising median incomes will address the second side of the issue.

The incentive package comes in two parts:

  1. $1.5M from the city’s general fund reserves.
  2. $1.0M from a conditionally forgivable loan from the Town Center Community Development Agency.

Initially, JU will lease 6,000 square feet in the existing City Centre building on City Place within Town Center.

Jacksonville University’s plans are best described with excerpts from a presentation by Jacksonville University President, Tim Cost:

An expansion and establishment of a Jacksonville University campus to the City of Palm Coast will bring advantages not only to the businesses and residents but also to the cooperative relationships that will be realized in leveraging the strengths of all of the institutions of higher education in the area. The establishment of a campus in Flagler County will be our first and only regional campus expansion in our 86-year existence. Jacksonville University plans to first expand highly relevant graduate programs in health sciences from our Brooks Rehabilitation College of Healthcare Sciences to create workforce-ready professionals in the Flagler/Volusia region and ultimately, to bring other undergraduate and graduate degrees in growing areas of workforce need.

Key Points:

1. A relatively modest capital investment can bring in-person higher education programs with the quality, reputation, and delivery from a top university. A Start-up investment of $2.5M in operations can result in students arriving by the fall of 2021.

2. Employment of healthcare occupations overall is projected to grow 14% from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations, adding about 1.9 million new jobs. All initial programs are designated by the Health Resources and Service Administration (HRSA), the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Employment Projections 2016-2026, and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (FDEO) as shortage areas for both urban and rural areas, specifically in Northeast Florida, including Flagler and Volusia counties. The graduates of the proposed Palm Coast programs are expected to be hired at an average salary of $60,000 per year with graduates of some programs earning much higher salaries.

3. The campus will bring specialized degrees and programs that can bring 100-150 full-time in-person students and 20-30 faculty and staff in less than 24 months and opportunities for long-term growth with the addition of larger facilities and more partnerships with local hospitals and providers. Several of the advanced programs are not offered by any in-person institution in the region and those that are offered have yet to meet all needs and include:

  • Master of Science in Speech Language Pathology
  • Clinical Mental Health Counseling
  • Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with advanced and specialized programs that include Clinical Nurse Educator, Nursing Leadership in Healthcare Systems, and Nursing Informatics
  • Accelerated Bachelors in Nursing (an undergraduate program aimed at non-nursing majors or those with current degrees, and includes pathway programs to graduate nursing degrees)

4. Jacksonville University Palm Coast programs will provide degrees and graduate pathways for Daytona State College and Embry Riddle Aeronautical University that helps keep talent in the region - when many might have to go to Orlando, Jacksonville, or other metro areas to continue their education. Statistically, once away, they stay away. Additional higher education in an area attracts more industry and businesses to the workforce funnel. Without these additional programs, the ability to attract a qualified workforce can be challenging for economic development.

5. Our programs work in conjunction with and fill in the gaps for the coordinated higher education providers Daytona State College, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, Bethune Cookman, and UNF. The future prospects presented by Flagler County's growth and current needs leave room for all representatives in higher education in the region. The "ultimate" regional higher education strength that Jacksonville and other much larger cities enjoy will now be available to Flagler – but outside of a metropolitan area:

  • Public state college
  • Public state university presence
  • HBCU
  • Private non-profit, comprehensive technical university
  • Private non-profit, comprehensive liberal arts/health professions university

6. This type of extensive higher education coverage is beneficial in meeting the needs of your new residents and will match what we are able to provide in Jacksonville - a proven attraction to business and growth in the region. This will make all northeast Florida a draw for economic development both statewide and nationally - an innovation and higher education sector to rival other parts of the country but with the lifestyle of northeast Florida.

Rapid Growth and Demand for Healthcare Professionals

Census projections suggest a 29% increase in population by 2030 for the Flagler/Volusia County region. Flagler County has a median age of 50, with Volusia County at 47 while both areas are experiencing long-term and continued growth in all age demographics. This increase is driving a higher demand for a workforce in a variety of occupations, many of which require specialized higher education degrees and training. Without a sufficiently prepared workforce, and the promise of a continuing supply of qualified workers, desirable economic development in the Flagler/Volusia could slow or stagnate over time.

We seek partnership with the City of Palm Coast and local healthcare industry to develop a second academic campus for initial in-person programs resulting in licensure of the most highly sought after graduates: Master of Science in Nursing with specialized degree tracks, Speech-Language Pathology (MSLP), Clinical Mental Health Counseling (MHC), and Accelerated Bachelor of Nursing (BSN). With the creation of a Jacksonville University campus in Flagler County, it would also open the door to future expansion and additional degrees from other colleges at the university, including the Davis College of Business, Stein College of Fine Arts, and the College of Arts and Sciences which would accommodate both full and part-time students

Initial Programs

The initial programs to be launched at a Palm Coast Campus would be:

Graduate Healthcare:

  • Master’s in Speech Language Pathology (MSLP)
  • Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (MHC)

Nursing - Graduate and Undergraduate to Graduate Pathways Programs:

  • Accelerated Bachelor of Nursing (BSN – including a graduate program pathway track)
  • Master of Science in Nursing (various specialized tracks)

Anticipated Job Growth and Workforce Needs in Initial Programs:

Employment of healthcare occupations overall is projected to grow 14% from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations, adding about 1.9 million new jobs. All initial programs are designated by the Health Resources and Service Administration (HRSA), the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Employment Projections 2016-2026, and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (FDEO) as shortage areas for both urban and rural areas, specifically in Northeast Florida, including Flagler and Volusia counties.

Enrollment is anticipated to meet or exceed 150 in-person students by the fall of 2022 with nearly 50 students by the fall of 2021 or earlier. These projections are conservative and depend upon receipt of investment funding and the speed that facilities and classroom space can be completed. At the end of year two, in-person enrollment growth will only be limited by campus facilities space, although our online options will, of course, be available. To grow our in-person programs, we will ultimately need a larger facility. We expect 20-30 onsite staff and faculty positions will be needed to support the launch and operation of these initial programs.


Toby Tobin: REALTOR®

I'm a licensed Florida REALTOR® affiliated with Grand Living  Commercial Realty in Palm Coast, Fla. As a real estate consultant to developers/builders, homebuyers, and sellers, and as a journalist, I have years of experience and a treasure trove of relevant data and local institutional knowledge.

Call me at (386) 931-7124 or email me at Toby@GoToby.com.

Listen to my radio show, Real Estate Mattersevery Saturday morning right after the 11:00 A.M. news break on WNZF News Radio at 1550 AM or 94.9 FM. Download the Flagler Radio App from the App Store so you can hear Real Estate Matters from anywhere in the world.

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Don "Toby" Tobin is a licensed real estate professional affiliated with Grand Living Realty. Toby is a member of the Flagler County Association of Realtors®, the Florida Association of Realtors, Enterprise Flagler, Flagler Home Builders Association, and the National Association of Realtors.

GoToby.com proivdes real estate news, commentary, and analysis for Palm Coast and Flagler Country Florida, as well as Realtor® referrals and consultation to buyers, sellers, and developers.