Ground was broken Friday morning at the University of West Florida, for the first construction project under the UWF Business Enterprises, Incorporated umbrella.
Jim Barnett, BEI’s Chief Executive Officer, told those gathering under the tent next to the Davis Highway/U-S 90 junction that the event celebrates progress.
“Plans don’t accomplish work,” said Barnett. “Goals on a flip chart on a wall do not accomplish work. It is people that really get things done. It’s taken us a while to get here, but we’ve ensured it’s done the right way”
The project, involving BEI and Compass/Chartwells – the university’s food service provider – is part of the campus Master plan announced in 2012. The eastern part of the UWF campus was envisioned as an enterprise zone.
UWF President Judy Bense says the construction symbolizes much more than the food, drink and services that will be available to both students and the general public.
“What this is today is the beginning of a very loud statement,” Bense said. “That we, the university are growing, we’re emerging, and we are beginning to be a major contributor to our region.”
The UWF Board of Trustees put the final piece of the puzzle in place last month, by approving the Development Agreement and Right of Entry for the East Campus project. The document then gained approval from the BEI Board of Directors.
President Judy Bense says no state funding will go into the project, which means the revenues will come directly to UWF. She adds that most other universities in Florida have developed similar programs.
The East Campus site will feature a mix of retail and restaurants, to be identified later this spring. One of the outlets already announced is Starbuck’s. That, and some of the other first businesses are scheduled to open this winter.