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Two Regional State Colleges Awarded First Florida Grant for Fintech Academy Development

Today, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced $3.6 million in grant funding to establish the Northeast Florida Fintech Initiative, a collaboration between Florida State College of Jacksonville and St. Johns River State College to educate students in the field of financial technology, a growing industry in the region.

This will be the first such fintech academy in the state, launching the proposal made by the governor last year to create workforce development programs and provide accelerated curriculum in the field. At the time of the initial announcement, Gov. DeSantis stated, the Jacksonville region was a “natural place” for a fintech academy, adding, “a place like Jacksonville is tailor-made to take the financial technology sector to the next level.” In 2019, the region announced more than 1,100 new fintech jobs at companies like FIS, SS&C Technologies and SoFi.

The funding will go toward developing and infusing fintech content into specific courses in computer and business programs at the colleges; involving regional K-12 school districts to align with existing career academies to imbed fintech elements that will complement college curriculum; and increasing awareness of fintech career pathways. Training would focus on topics such as blockchain, mobile applications, machine learning and cloud-based data management.

The effort will be a collaborative approach between the state colleges, and a diverse consortium of entities including JAXUSA Partnership, CareerSource Northeast Florida, regional school districts and existing corporations.

By training and developing the future fintech workforce, the academy will “power the economy and serve an evolving business need” for the industry and attract new fintech businesses as “Florida has a more desirable business climate than the financial legacy states with lower taxes and cost of living,” according to Gov. DeSantis.

Today’s announcement is expected to lead to other opportunities for growth in this field including Gov. DeSantis’ aspiration to provide a framework for what is being referred to as a “regulatory sandbox” that would ease outdated burdens to spur more business development and innovation for the state.