Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday announced a $5.8 million investment into Immokalee Technical College in Moore Haven. While run by Collier County Schools, the Glades County-based facility will bring secondary education opportunities into the rural Florida Heartland community.
The school will offer training in 12 career tracks, bringing opportunities to residents on inland Florida that normally wouldn’t be available without driving to the coast.
“These are career tracks with huge amounts of openings, so these skills are in high demand,” DeSantis said.
It’s part of an effort, DeSantis said, to make Florida a top state for workforce education in the country. The school expansion will open paths in cybersecurity, nursing and other skills-based fields.
Department of Economic Opportunity Secretary Dane Eagle said the programs will have slots for 1,300 students.
“That’s 1,300 families that will benefit from this,” he said.
Jamal Sowell, on his last day as CEO for Enterprise Florida, also attended the announcement and stressed how important workforce development has been in the wake of the pandemic. That has helped individuals improve their career paths as companies laid off workers and is now helping in Florida’s robust recovery.
“When other states were slowing down, Florida was stepping up,” he said.
Collier County Superintendent of Schools Kamela Patton defended having a Collier-run institution beyond its borders, saying regional economic assets will boost the greater Naples community as well. And DeSantis said it makes sense as many workers trained at the technical college could end up in the Collier County workforce or in other more densely developed areas.
But the college could also provide economic vitality in the Heartland as the region seeks to modernize. Facilities like AirGlades look to increase the distribution and manufacturing possibilities in inland Florida.
Andy Tuck, chair of the Board of Education and a Heartland official, stressed as much at the event.
“There is no place better than the Florida Heartland to expand good jobs and economic opportunities,” Tuck said.