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Member News: C.C. Eship / NACCE Journal Spring/Summer 2011

PRESIDENT’S VIEWPOINT: Santa Fe College Is Essential

Monday, April 25, 2011   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Matthew Montoya
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By Dr. Jackson N. Sasser, President
Santa Fe College, Gainesville, FL

"Our current thinking about national strategy and national security is skewed towards the military element of power…economic power is and always has been the primary determinant of national power and, therefore, national security…”- "National Power and a National Economic Strategy,” U.S. Army War College1

Santa Fe College is essential for national security. This is not widely acknowledged for two primary reasons:

  • The federal government lacks a systemic national economic policy that would have to include community colleges.
  • Community colleges have not asserted that they are indispensable for national economic security.

Only community colleges can quickly offer programs to educate knowledge workers needed for high-end technological industries to corner market share in the new global economy. History shows a nation must be economically strong to lead the world politically, culturally and militarily.

  • Cotton textiles and later manufacturing enabled Britain to lead the world in the 19th century.
  • The United States led in automobiles after World War II. Since then we led in nuclear energy, military technology and IT.
  • Many believe U.S. advantages in biotechnology will bring continued leadership.

The United States cannot compete against low-wage industries abroad that produce low-tech products. The nation can succeed by producing high-tech products that are ahead of the capabilities of foreign competitors.

Global thinking is applied locally in the unique partnership named "Innovation Gainesville.” This initiative builds upon the successful WorkForce Florida by bringing together the latest products-related research from the University of Florida, finance from venture capitalists, know-how from entrepreneurs many of whom are local, and Santa Fe programs to educate employees necessary for new companies to thrive.

Florida's Existing Workforce Education System

WorkForce Florida is a legislatively-enabled public-private partnership that develops programs to educate students in specific skills needed by selected industries. Partners include industry, business, local and state governments, education K-to-post graduate, and interested citizens and philanthropists.

The Florida system has:

  • Enterprise Florida, first in the nation to establish statewide objectives for selected "high wage, high demand” industries that have potential for success. Biotechnology is one named industry.
  • WorkForce Florida was created a few years later to implement Enterprise Florida objectives through regional workforce boards and one-stop centers in every county.
  • WorkForce Florida founded Banner Centers, public-private ventures that develop education programs necessary for industries to succeed. The centers also serve as incubators for targeted industries.
  • Santa Fe's Perry Center in the North Florida city of Alachua is a product of WorkForce Florida. The center's life sciences programs educate students for work in biotechnology firms at the Banner Center incubator across the street and elsewhere.

Innovation Gainesville and Santa Fe College

WorkForce Florida is amplified by Innovation Gainesville, a new public-private consortium of the University of Florida, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and Santa Fe College. "IG” quickly converts university research into products that succeed in global markets and provide well-paying jobs at home.

Backing for IG is provided by The Greater Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce and its Council for Economic Outreach, which recruits outside or supports local industries, and local governments that provide suitable regulations and infrastructure.

UF is building the Florida Innovation Hub, a multi-million-dollar facility near its campus to house offices for research departments, technology licensing, venture capital, business incubators, and Santa Fe.

SF's Center for Innovation and Economic Development is an incubator three blocks from the Innovation Hub. The CIED typically supports local single entrepreneurs with courses, offices, clerical staff, and insurance and licensing.


1. A condition for an initiative like IG is a nearby graduate research university. Proximity is necessary for mingling, brainstorming and action on circumstances arising from the confluence of venture capitalists, university researchers, entrepreneurs and community college workforce educators.

2. Local governments, chambers of commerce and economic development organizations must support cooperatively.

3. A culture of public-private partnerships is needed for constituents to have opportunities to develop viable companies. WorkForce Florida was the statewide foundation for Innovation Gainesville.

4. A coherent national policy resembling WorkForce Florida and Innovation Gainesville is needed. The federal government should facilitate but not manage. There is hope because national rhetoric and programs recognize the need to apply our prowess in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

5. Community colleges should forcefully assert they are a sine qua non for national prosperity in a competitive world. We have not clearly stated that the nation must fully utilize our workforce programs if the economy is to be restored to prosperity and continued preeminence.

"The nation's ability to satisfy its future workforce needs, maintain its competitive advantage in key sectors like manufacturing, and meet the goal of regaining leadership in college completion will depend greatly on the contribution of the community college sector.” -- Brookings Institution2

To learn more about Innovation Gainesville, please contact Dr. Jackson Sasser, President, Santa Fe College (Gainesville, FL) at (352) 395-5168 or

1 Lientenat Colonial Wiliam T. Lee, "National Power and a National Economic Strategy,” U.S. Army War College, April 1996. f

2 Sara Goldrich-Rab, Douglas N. Harris, Christopher Mazzeo and Gregory Kienzl, "Transforming America's Community Colleges: A Federal Policy Proposal to Expand Opportunity and Promote Economic Prosperity,” Bookings Institute, May 2009.

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