Budget conference: Lake-Sumter lands millions for Technology Innovation Center
Image via Facebook.

Lake-Sumter State College
The 40,000-square-foot facility will be located on the school's Clermont campus.

An innovation center for Lake-Sumter State College just landed a few million dollars in state funding.

The latest Senate Education Appropriations offer provides $5 million to the college, bringing the upper chamber in agreement with the House on the project. The money will go toward adding a 40,000-square-foot Technology Innovation Center at the school’s Clermont campus.

Of note, Rep. Keith Truenow, a Tavares Republican, requested $5.1 million for the project. The ultimate agreement between House and Senate budget negotiators provides almost as much, including $2.5 million in recurring funding and another $2.5 million in nonrecurring dollars out of general revenue.

Truenow in his request said the center would help grow enrollment and train students for high-skill, high-wage jobs.

“The facility will house specialized classrooms and cutting-edge lab spaces to cater to academic programs in information technology, cybersecurity, AI, robotics, manufacturing automation, and other high-tech industries,” his request reads.

Lake-Sumter Community College President Heather Bigard filed the request. The ask makes clear that the college will come back and ask for more funding for the project next year.

“The Technology Innovation Center will serve as a hub for technology based programs,” the request reads.

“By providing students with a conducive environment and modern resources, the Technology Innovation Center aims to bridge the gap between education and private sector industry and business, fostering collaboration and facilitating students’ successful transition into the workforce.”

Bigard, when she was hired as President in 2022, promised to focus on economic opportunities for the community during her tenure.

“These next few years will be a transformational time in higher education in Florida and this country. I believe that LSSC is well positioned to embrace the future to provide economic opportunity and impact to the communities that we serve,” she said at the time.

The Leesburg-based college opened in 1961, and in that time has developed widely recognized programs in nursing and professional development, and along the way graduated some of Florida’s finest political journalists.

A strategic plan for the college aims to grow the student body to 10,000 by 2026.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


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