School gets $40 million from USDA
PIKEVILLE, Ky. (Sept. 25, 2014) — The University of Pikeville received a $40 Community Facilities direct loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to construct a new facility to house the Kentucky College of Optometry.
“UPIKE and the USDA successfully partnered on the Coal Building, a $32 million facility that houses the Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine,” said James L. Hurley, president of UPIKE. “This new investment will provide opportunities on many fronts, including education, health care and economic diversity. With our nationally recognized medical school, and now a college of optometry, we are establishing an integrated health care model for rural medicine.”
The new program will be the first college of optometry in the state. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for optometrists is expected to grow faster than average nationally, by 33 percent through 202, adding more than 11,000 new positions. Health care reform and an aging population are also expected to impact the need.
The new facility is part of a strategic plan to upgrade educational services in Central Appalachia. The project’s estimated $52 million cost includes a $5.5 million applicant contribution, $3.7 million in private donations, a $1.5 million Appalachian Regional Commission grant and a $1.3 million Department of Commerce grant.
“This facility is going to change the landscape of Pikeville once again, bringing health care, opportunity and jobs,” said Pikeville City Manager Donovan Blackburn. “This institution is the catalyst to help carry us where we need to be. We are excited to be the conduit to allow the funding to come through.”