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Press Release

U.S. Department of Commerce Invests to Expand Critical Santa Fe College Business Incubator in Opportunity Zone

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $4.8 million grant to Santa Fe College, Gainesville, Florida, to help re-build and expand the Santa Fe College Center for Innovation and Economic Development (CIED) at the Blount Center. The project, to be located in a Tax Cuts and Jobs Act designated Opportunity Zone, will be matched with $1.2 million in local funds.

“The Trump Administration is continuing to work diligently to help rebuild communities devastated by natural disasters, including the storms and flooding that hit Gainesville,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “By sending grant funds to a Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Opportunity Zone, the investment in re-building and expanding Santa Fe College’s CIED facility will not only grow new business sectors including IT, technology and other knowledge-based industries, but also attract additional investment with special tax incentives.”

“I thank President Trump and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, for awarding Santa Fe College this important grant,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “With our focus on maximizing the full potential of Opportunity Zones to attract additional capital; investment and eliminating unnecessary occupational licensing requirements, Florida will become the best state to realize potential and find success. Florida is poised for growth in technology, finance, health care aerospace and more, so I applaud all efforts that support the continue ascent of our colleges and universities that will allow these industries to grow by employing our graduates in good, high-paying jobs in our low-tax, business friendly environment.”

“The EDA grant will have a real and lasting impact on higher education in Florida by rebuilding and expanding Santa Fe College’s CIED,” said Senator Scott. “I thank the Administration for their dedication to Florida’s recovery following devastating storms, and applaud this effort to bring new capital investment and more jobs to Gainesville. Over my eight years as governor, I fought every day to make sure every Floridian had the opportunity to get a great education and live their version of the American Dream. This grant will build on that work and continue to expand economic opportunity for Florida families.”

“The Economic Development Administration plays a critical role in the recovery and rebuilding efforts of our Florida communities, and this decision will undoubtedly help foster future innovation and economic development in North Central Florida,” said Senator Rubio. “I applaud the Administration’s decision to help rebuild and expand Santa Fe’s Center for Innovation and Economic Development to ensure students continue to receive needed educational opportunities. I look forward to working with the Trump administration, as well as state and local leaders, to ensure this important work to grow and expand the local economy continues.”

“Congratulations to Santa Fe College for all the hard work they have done to earn this grant,” said Congressman Yoho. “I thank Secretary Ross for recognizing the potential of Santa Fe College and the Trump Administration for ushering in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act which made the grants possible. These much-needed funds will be put to good use and I look forward to seeing the innovation that comes out of the Santa Fe College CIED facility.”

The project will support the development and growth of new business sectors by re-building and expanding the College Center for Innovation and Economic Development (CIED). The CIED serves early-stage startups across a broad spectrum of sectors. This project was made possible by the regional planning efforts led by the North Central Florida Regional Planning Council. EDA funds North Central Florida Regional Planning Council to bring together the public and private sectors to create an economic development roadmap to strengthen the regional economy, support private capital investment and create jobs.

This project is funded under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (PL 115-123) (PDF), in which Congress appropriated to EDA $600 million in additional Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) Program (PDF) funds for disaster relief and recovery as a result of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, wildfires and other calendar year 2017 natural disasters under the Stafford Act.

The funding announced today goes to a Tax Cuts and Jobs Act designated Opportunity Zone, which provides special incentives for further private sector participation and development. Created by President Donald J. Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, Opportunity Zone designations spur economic development by giving tax incentives to investors in economically-distressed communities nationwide. To learn more about the Opportunity Zone program, see the Treasury Department resources page. To learn more about the Department’s work in Opportunity Zones, read our blog post.

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (
The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation's regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA makes investments in economically distressed communities in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.

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