Francis Marion University opened its first educational building in downtown Florence in a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday.
The new $15.5 million Luther F. Carter Center for Health Sciences is roughly six miles from the school’s main campus east of town. The 50,000 square-foot center is a partnership between FMU and the University of South Carolina School of Medicine that will train nursing students and provide space for third- and fourth-year medical students to work as physicians’ assistants in Florence’s nearby hospital.
FMU Board of Trustees Chairman Ken Jackson said it brings sorely-needed medical students to the Pee Dee. “We believe it’s going to produce practitioners who can fill a much-needed void in the medical fields of the region,” he said during Thursday’s ceremony. “Hopefully, the people who come through this door will stay in this community and in this region.”
The site was once home to the historic Florence Trust building, a 97-year-old high-rise that city officials said had become unsafe. It was demolished in July 2014 to make room for the new center.
Francis Marion officials say the project was funded by a $7.5 million donation from the Dr.’s Bruce and Lee Foundation, while the state added $5 million and the city of Florence chipped in an additional $3 million.