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    Largo to roll out red carpet for new SPC campus

    The city will welcome its first college campus, at the ICOT Center, but wants a Largo connection in the name.

    By MICHAEL SANDLER, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published July 19, 2002


    LARGO -- The city is more than ready for St. Petersburg College to open a campus here -- just make sure Largo gets fair billing.

    That's the message city officials will send the college, which plans to open its $30-million training complex, to be called the Epicenter, and move offices to the grounds of the ICOT Center off Ulmerton Road by the end of 2004.

    The Largo City Commission gave its stamp of approval Tuesday night, scheduling an Aug. 6 public hearing to amend the industrial park's development order and clearing a path for the city's first college campus.

    City Manager Steven Stanton said the only unresolved issue is finding a way to work "Largo" into the name of the new campus, because the ICOT Center has a Clearwater mailing address. He plans to meet with SPC president Carl Kuttler to discuss that detail.

    "There's a lot of quality with the name, and they have to equate the name with something that says Largo," Stanton said.

    Kuttler was out of town Wednesday, but Stanton said he anticipates that they will be able to work this out.

    This is a real opportunity for the city, Stanton said.

    "We need to embrace it, celebrate it and do whatever we can to be a part of it," he said.

    The main draw at the campus, which will accommodate up to 1,280 students, will be a collaborative center where companies and organizations can get help developing master plans, said Susan Reiter, the college's director of facilities, planning and institutional service.

    "That is going to be one of the highlights of the Epicenter," Reiter said. Reiter said the school chose Largo with that in mind. It wants a Pinellas campus centrally located and accessible to major highways, roads and Tampa International Airport.

    "It's just a proud thing to have in your city," said Largo Commissioner Charlie Harper. "We are going to work with St. Petersburg College in every way the city can work with them to provide a good facility for them."

    -- Michael Sandler can be reached at (727) 445-4174 or sandler@sptimes.com.

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