Orlando Business Journal
Abraham Aboraya, Reporter
St. Cloud wants Herzing University to open a new nursing school in the city this fall after a $1 million renovation.
Milwaukee-based Herzing University-Orlando is a private, for-profit, four-year school specializing in nursing, allied health and Internet technology courses at its Winter Park campus, where it graduated 50 students in 2011.
If Herzing moves forward, its new St. Cloud campus would graduate 112 students annually. It will offer two- and four-year degrees in nursing, health information, medical billing and emergency management technician training.
Herzing’s potential expansion means more than $1 million in contracts up for bid to design, gut and rebuild 16,000 square feet, as well as opportunities for vendors to equip the facility, which would have a $1 million annual operating budget.
Long term, the school also would mean an estimated minimum of $765,000 in annual salaries at the campus and more Central Florida nurses.
The school would go in a city-owned building currently occupied by Southland Christian School, which will be leaving for a new building.
Ernie Gearhart, an economic development consultant with the city of St. Cloud, said city officials approached Herzing about converting the building to a new campus for several reasons:
• Herzing offers the programs hospital administrators said they needed most in hiring candidates.
• The proposed campus, at 2901 17th St., is across the street from the 84-bed St. Cloud Regional Medical Center
• The city has been courting educational institutions.
Heather Antonacci, Herzing University-Orlando campus president, said she expects to make a final decision in the next few weeks.
The Osceola County Commission approved putting $650,000 toward renovations Feb. 13, and St. Cloud committed an additional $400,000 for it. The lease hasn’t been finalized, and Herzing needs regulatory approval from the Higher Learning Commission and the Florida State Nursing Board.
Bids likely would go out in April and May, and construction may start in mid-June and be completed by October.
Osceola County Commissioner Frank Attkisson said the nursing school would be “transformative” for St. Cloud, comparing it to Kissimmee’s 1991 land donation to bring a Valencia College campus there.
Osceola County has several health care expansion projects in the works: Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA Holdings Inc.’s planned $65 million Poinciana hospital and HCA-owned Osceola Regional Medical Center’s plans for a $50 million new patient tower — projects that will create nursing jobs.
However, Herzing’s project isn’t without critics. Osceola County Commissioner Michael Harford voted against it because it means giving tax dollars to a private, for-profit college when there are already at least five nursing schools in the area and because the county’s investment won’t be repaid by Herzing, though the city’s $400,000 will be repaid through rent.
What this means to you
• More than $1 million to design and renovate the building.
• Up to 16 full-time jobs, mostly instructors earning $60,000 annually.
• An expected 112 nursing graduates annually, who could work locally.
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