At a forum on the UCF Downtown project on Monday, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Valencia College President Falecia Williams and UCF President John Hitt talked about the project’s connectivity potential and what it will do for youths in need of help.

Dyer said the project would fit in with other industry ‘clusters’ in the Orlando area, such as its theme park cluster and its medical cluster – he said Orlando was very much a city that made clusters work to their fullest advantage.

“We know how to do this,” he said, assuring the crowd that he knew how to make UCF Downtown fit in with the rest of the downtown area and form its own new cluster.

He said the construction for the project would involve straightening the curve in the road on Livingston Street and recreating other parts of the grid system. By the fall of 2018, he said the project should be open to students.

Williams talked about helping less fortunate students from the Parramore neighborhood and others. She said they wanted to start working with those students early on to ensure that they get good jobs and go to college. Through short-term training and giving them jobs in the downtown area, Williams said they could open up pathways to higher education and better jobs in the future.

“They can work to earn their way into the job,” she said. “It’s a laddered-in pathway so they can get degrees. This is a career model for creating rungs on that ladder. They can walk out with a job, not just the hope of a job.”

In addition, BB&T announced that they were donating $1 million to the UCF Downtown project, which was met with thunderous applause.

In a press release, BB&T Central Florida Regional President Tony Coley speaks highly of the project.

“As part of our mission, BB&T strives to make the communities in which we work better places to live, and as a corporate citizen BB&T has a strong track record of supporting its local groups and institutions,” Coley is quoted as saying in the press release. “We are proud to work with and support the University of Central Florida, and very excited about the positive impact our contribution will bring.”

Hitt is quoted in the press release as saying the donation brings them “one step closer” to completing UCF Downtown.

According to the press release, a third of the UCF Downtown project will be funded through community support, with the university contributing $20 million and the state contributing $20 million more.

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