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Leon County invests in education

Sells facility and prime real estate land to FAMU

Carla St.Louis | 4/3/2014, 9 a.m.
Interim President Larry Robinson of FAMU and Leon County Commissioner Kristin Dozier: Interim President Larry Robinson of Florida A&M University (FAMU) and Leon County Commissioner Kristin Dozier sign an agreement that allows FAMU to acquire ownership of land and research facilities at Innovation Park. Florida A&M University

Leon County, the region that boasts the highest level of education average among Florida's 67 counties, is re-investing into academia.

Last week Leon Country Research and Development Authority (LCRDA), chaired by Leon County Commissioner Kristin Dozier, signed an agreement that names Florida A&M University (FAMU) as the new owner of the Centennial Building.

This unprecedented move falls in line with the county's high education goals, cementing a research facility and 26.8 gross acres of developed and undeveloped land within Innovation Park for residents.

The Centennial Building is a research facility that includes 26.8 gross acres of developed and undeveloped land at Innovation Park. Florida State University (FSU) will be awarded 17 acres of developable land.

The deal's most prized score comes in the form of Innovation Park, a hub for economic development, scientific research and commercial development in Leon County and northern Florida.

Prior to it, FAMU utilized the Centennial Building for physics research under a lease.

The newly acquired space and land will become a part of FAMU’s main campus. Currently, seventeen acres of land are ready for use.

“This agreement is only the first step, and all the partners have begun planning for new developments and programs at the Park," said Larry Robinson, Ph.D, FAMU's interim president. "I’m excited about what the future holds for the Authority and I believe our renewed partnership with FAMU and FSU is stronger than ever.”

This contact is a lucrative move for all parties involved. It strengthens FAMU's commitment to conduct world-class research and engage in entrepreneurial activities. And in Leon County and Florida, respectively, the Centennial Building is expected to make positively impact the state's economy.

Its restructuring places the Authority to be a key partner in Leon County's economic development. While the Authority will keep about 68 acres of land, the three entities will form a review committee to coordinate further development of the park. LCRDA will continue to manage it.

FAMU officials are upbeat about the many changes it will bring the historically Black university.

“[...] The Centennial Building and the undeveloped land at Innovation Park by FAMU will go a long way in relieving our institution’s shortage of research spaces for now and many years to come," said Robinson.

"The acquisition of these premium properties sends the right message to our researchers that FAMU is committed to hands-on research activities on- and off-campus,” said Ken Redda, Ph.D., interim vice president for research.

With Blacks making up 30 percent of Leon County, the pact represents a significant moment in FAMU's rich, Black history.

FAMU has proposed a litany of savvy ideas for space use such ascreating space for innovative tech start-up companies or possibly using it for conferences, research and teaching.

"Acquiring ownership of the Centennial Building and the 26.8 acres of land transferred from Leon County and the LCRDA will allow us to expand our research, business development and community outreach activities,” Robinson said. “It also better enables faculty to compete successfully for research awards and allows us to attract top students and faculty from around the nation."