$2M in tax dollars to be used to lure private university - FOX 35 News Orlando

$2M in tax dollars to be used to lure private university

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The City of Saint Cloud is teaming up with Osceola County to give $2 million to a private university, so it will open up shop in Saint Cloud.  City Economic Development Director Brian O'Connor said they can not name the school yet, because the deal is not finalized, but it will be a healthcare school.

"They're going to provide Associate and Baccalaureate degrees in medical and healthcare services. They'll run some medical stenography programs, physical occupational therapy. There will be medical billing and coding."

The school will be housed at an old municipal building owned by the city.  Osceola will contribute $650,000 in renovations, the city will pay $400,000. St. Cloud will also add 100 thousand dollars a year towards operation and maintenance of that building. The money will come from excess profits the city made from resident's power bills.  O'Connor says the benefits outweigh the cost.

"As it currently stands, we're looking at this school generating an additional $25,000 in real property value -- $16 million by year 2016 -- and it will create 218 jobs."

However, O'Connor did not give a direct answer when asked why taxpayers should give that much money for a private, for-profit school.

"The private university, I mean it was, it wasn't really an issue. The partnership between the city and the county, I think, was the important thing."

For the city, the two main reasons they want the project are the jobs, and they also want to build a new type of infrastructure. They want to be able to capitalize on getting their young people prepared for the future and say health care will be an expanding industry.

Osceola County said they agreed to the deal because of the shortages in employees in the health care industry and a waiting list for health care training programs. They also point out that the Saint Cloud guaranteed their investment.

If the deal with the school falls through, the city would pay the county back for the money spent to renovate the building.

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