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      FMU gets more money for medical school

      Francis Marion University's upcoming medical school just got another $5 million in state appropriations, according to SC Senator Hugh Leatherman.

      Leatherman made the announcement during a news conference Monday afternoon.

      He was joined by FMU President Dr. Fred Carter, Dr. Eddie Floyd, FMU trustees and honored guests and Florence Mayor Stephen Wukela.

      "We see this as not only a necessary investment, but one with a huge return for our area and its people," said Leatherman.

      FMU's Medical and Health Science Complex is a partnership between the University, City of Florence and the State of South Carolina.

      The programs to be housed at the complex include nurse practitioners, physicians assistants and University of South Carolina third and fourth year medical students clinical program.

      It's estimated the complex will cost $15.5 million.

      City of Florence is contributing $3 million, the State of South Carolina $5 million, and private sources about $7.5 million.

      The site for the complex has been selected at the intersection West Evans and South Irby Streets where the old Trust building is located.

      The property will be cleared for the complex.

      "The site will meet those goals, provide a fantastic location for these students to learn, as well as curing the problem we have with the blighted building that's there, which after repeated efforts and numerous developers we've not been able to get developed because of massive amount of cost that would be associated with developing the property," said Mayor Stephen Wukela.

      The building is anticipated to be between 45,000 to 50,000 square feet of classrooms and office space.

      Construction is expected to begin in 2015 and to be completed in 2016.

      "Assuming that this property is conveyed to the University at or soon after the first of the year, we believe that we can begin construction next summer, late spring, early summer. It will take about 20 to 24 months to build this building. So, our estimated time of completion of this facility will be sometime late spring, early summer of 2016," said Dr. Fred Carter, FMU President.

      Officials believe the programs will help to address a shortage of medical personnel throughout the state.

      "We see Florence as the next step for statewide health investment, both for students and for patients.Florence County and the entire Pee Dee have been lacking for far too long," said Senator Leatheman.

      Nearly 350 students are expected to participate in the program.