With the strong leadership of Sen. Darren Soto, Rep. Mike La Rosa and Osceola County, Valencia College secured the final funding for the construction of a new campus in Poinciana, a sprawling community located southwest of Kissimmee.
The $12.1 million in funds officially greenlights the construction of a 65,000-square-foot, multistory building. The total cost of planning and construction for the building is approximately $27 million.
Valencia officials anticipate that groundbreaking will take place in the summer of 2016, with classes underway by the fall of 2017.
“We are thrilled to see this campus become a reality,” said Dr. Sandy Shugart, president of Valencia College. “We want to thank Gov. Rick Scott, who has seen the need for this campus, as well as Rep. Mike La Rosa and Sen. Darren Soto, who are staunch advocates for the campus. We also want to thank our community partners in Poinciana and officials from Osceola County, who donated the land for the campus.”
Although Valencia College officials have been eyeing a possible Poinciana campus since 2003, momentum for the campus accelerated three years ago and Valencia officials have worked closely with local leaders and community groups to rally support for the campus.
Last year the state legislature appropriated $11.9 million to pay for half the construction costs, with Valencia contributing $2 million from its reserves. An additional $1 million in planning funds was approved by the state in 2014.
“This new campus will provide a well-needed opportunity for Poinciana students to attend college and achieve the American dream,” said Sen. Darren Soto. “Currently, Valencia’s Poinciana students have to commute one to two hours each way to attend classes at the Osceola Campus, resulting in 20 percent fewer Poinciana students attending college. With this new location, we can and will do better.”
“I want to thank Governor Rick Scott for recognizing the unique needs of District 42 and for realizing our need for more educational access with this project is well deserved,” said Rep. Mike La Rosa.
La Rosa added: “With the Valencia Poinciana Campus moving forward, I am excited about the prospects for students in the Poinciana area. This new campus will open many doors for the residents of Poinciana and greatly assist young people getting ready for the job market and assist adults in career transition. Education remains one of my main priorities and I truly believe this investment will lead to a better future for all residents.”
The Poinciana Campus, located on 18.93 acres of land at the intersection of Pleasant Hill and Reaves roads, would become Valencia’s sixth campus. Valencia College currently serves about 68,000 students in Osceola and Orange counties.
“We look forward to providing greater access to higher education to the residents of Poinciana,” said Dr. Kathleen Plinske, president of Valencia’s Osceola and Lake Nona campuses. “We believe the new campus will significantly increase the college-going rate of students who graduate from high school in the Poinciana area, and we’d like to encourage adults to continue their education as well. In addition to our traditional college degree programs, we plan to offer short-term career training programs as well as Valencia’s highly successful Intensive English Program at the Poinciana Campus.”