State College of Florida announces multimillion-dollar technology project

A Center for Advanced Technology and Innovation is coming to State College of Florida, in Bradenton, the result of a $3.6 million grant from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

SCF’s new center will include a coding academy, offering courses, certificate programs, seminars, social events and other gatherings to students and local entrepreneurs, according to the school’s announcement on Wednesday morning.

The center will also include a studio for video and audio production, along with a department for university partnerships, where students can take advantage of opportunities not offered at SCF.

A fourth element, the “SCF Technology Incubator and Accelator,” is the cornerstone that brings everything together at the Center for Advanced Technology and Innovation.

The incubator will take ideas, some of them formed in other areas of the center, and help bring them to life. Would-be entrepreneurs might need help in developing a business plan, a source of funding or a networking strategy.

SCF’s new center is planned for both students and the community at large, said Todd Fritch, the school’s executive vice president and provost. He spoke at a news conference on Wednesday.

“This follows our commitment to being the community’s college, and ensuring that we are good partners in everything that we do,” he said.

He was joined by Carol Probstfeld, the president of SCF. She said overwhelming assistance — letters of support and phone calls to Tallahassee — were the driving force behind SCF’s $3.6 million grant.

She also credits the partnerships formed with local employers, along with the economic development corporations in Bradenton and Sarasota.

“Our grant application grew stronger as each partner came on board,” she said.

While the timeline is still fluid, it’s clear that Building 8, the college’s former library, will house the new center. SCF hopes new money and ideas will bring life into the aging facility, while also promoting technology and growth in the area.

SCF deliberated for more than two years with faculty, staff and residents, brainstorming a future for the old library. Probstfeld said she heard a range of ideas, some more interesting than others.

“Everything from a fitness facility, to student housing, to a child care center and a petting zoo,” she jokingly said. “I would like to thank our collegiate school sixth graders for that last recommendation.”