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Baars Tech Building Open For Business At PSC

Dave Dunwoody/WUWF Public Media

Pensacola State College’s newest addition is now ready for students, after Friday’s ribbon-cutting at its Ninth Avenue campus.

The $15 million Baars Technology Building is a state-of-the-art, two-story facility containing almost 24,000 sq. ft.

“We’ll accommodate our growing cybersecurity program, our math lab which will be on the left side [of the building],” said PSC President Ed Meadows. “And other faculty and classrooms for mathematics and computer science.”

Meadows said the price tag was not 15 million originally, but the project ran so long that the cost increased over time. The project, he adds, did get help from the Escambia and Santa Rosa County Commissions, along with then-Pensacola mayor Ashton Hayward.

“He put forth $25,000 from the city for the construction of this facility,” Meadows said. “The Santa Rosa County commission put forth $250,000, and the county commission of Escambia County capped if off a couple of years ago [also] at $250,000.”

Credit Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media
Ribbon-cutting at Baars Tech Building on Friday, April 9, 2021.

Members of the Baars family were on hand for the ribbon-cutting, along with local elected officials, the Pensacola State’s Board of Trustees, Foundation Board of Governors, Alumni Association board members, administrators and faculty.

Among the speakers was current Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson.

“It’s awesome to see [PSC] serve at the Milton campus, the Warrington campus and the south Santa Rosa campus,” the mayor said. “We are particularly happy the city of Pensacola that the heart of Pensacola State College is right here in the city of Pensacola. We’re very proud to have nurtured that all the way from way back at Cervantes and Palafox [Streets], all the way out to College Blvd. by the airport.”

The new structure replaces the Mary Ellison Baars Building, which at 60 years of age was Pensacola State’s oldest before it was razed in 2019. Science has change and so have communities, says the mayor.

“We believe that people will be looking for medium-sized communities to live in, to build their businesses in and to grow the town,” said Robinson. “And what’s the most important in all that is education and opportunity; transform individuals through education. And that’s what we can do in this building.”

Ajax Building Corp. was the general contractor for the project, and Jay Smith – the firm’s vice president -- said the design was from Florida Architects.

“The uniqueness of working on a project like this is that the teamwork it takes, there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work and a lot of people put their heart and soul into [it],” said Smith. “So when you see people in the building finally and then of course, when students are part of the building, then that really brings it to life and really makes what we’re all doing really successful.”

Another possible mission for the Baars Technology Building is keeping the students it educates in the area.

“In the 73 years of this college’s existence, we are in a place today where we are a major economic driving force; a workforce preparation and university transfer,” said PSC President Ed Meadows. “We’re so proud to be here, and our latest facility is going to house one of our fastest-growing program – our cybersecurity center.”

According to Meadows, there are more than 4,000 cybersecurity job vacancies in Northwest Florida – good-paying jobs to be had. And he added, there will be no shortage of opportunities for graduates educated in the new facility.