FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - With $15 million secured, models are being made and Florence is forging ahead with plans to build a new medical facility.
The Francis Marion University Health and Sciences Complex will be a 52,000 square-foot building "that will accommodate state of the art nursing medical training - that's just extraordinary,” said Dr. Fred Carter, President of FMU. It will be built at the intersection of Irby and West Evans Street.
On Monday, the university unveiled preliminary renderings of what that three-story, L-shaped building will look like.
The front of the building will sit along West Evans, complete with a large outside area for student studies and outdoor activities.
And when the medical school is complete in the fall of 2016 it will complement surrounding buildings in downtown Florence.
The building will “celebrate the architecture downtown, and with the old post office across the street, we certainly didn't want a duplication but we were hoping that would play off of that and capture some elements of the old Trust building, and I think we have done a wonderful job,” said Ray Reich, Downtown Florence Development Manager.
It's in this new building that students from both Francis Marion University and the University of South Carolina will learn.
University leaders said the health and science complex will help FMU meet the need of expanding medical programs.
“We have added on to our bachelor of science and nursing program. We have added on master's degree in nurse practice and nurse education. This next year we will add a master's degree in physician's assistance,” Carter said.
All of these added degrees and the new health sciences complex started with a need found here in the state of South Carolina.
A year ago we told you about a study FMU conducted that found the Pee Dee and Rural South Carolina are in need of health care professionals.
“We need nurse practitioners, we need physician assistance, we need virtually every variety of health practitioners that you can name,” Carter said.
And while the hope is that the students to be taught here will meet those needs, the city says the incoming student presence will increase energy and revenue in downtown Florence.
“We need more people on the streets, what I call walking wallets, and the more people that work down, here go to school down here - that helps to attract more restaurants, more businesses,” Reich said. The hundreds of students that will one day attend the school will also help drive more downtown housing, he added.
“Those medical students will need a place to live, and they can live downtown, and not even need transportation," Reich said.
Construction on the Health and Sciences Complex will begin this spring.