CARLSBAD — The city has big plans for the empty building on the corner of Faraday Avenue and El Camino Real that was once home to Farmer’s Insurance.
After speaking with local businesses, city council realized the need for a local higher education program.
Assistant City Manager Kathy Dodson said they’re looking at graduate level engineering programs, which align with the business sector in Carlsbad, including life sciences, computer programming and information and communications technology.
She said one of the major concerns local business owners have is talent acquisition.
“They’ve got to have the talent they need to grow their business,” Dodson said.
The city is taking the process slowly so an end date has not yet been established.
“We’re taking this really slow because it’s a big program and it’s not something that governments typically deal with,” Dodson said.
The city issued a request for expression of interest to school officials that are interested in opening a satellite campus in Carlsbad.
This process is more flexible than the usual development process, which involves candidates filing a request for proposal.
The flexibility allows the city to court interested schools and work with a candidate to create the best fit, Dodson said.
Since the process is a bit different, a budget has not yet been defined although the city is working with a contractor, Steven Jacobs of U 3 Advisors, for guidance.
Ted Owen, president of the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce, said about 15 to 20 colleges have expressed interest in locating a satellite campus in Carlsbad.
The city already owns the seven-acre property.
Dodson said the city doesn’t have the resources to locate an undergraduate school in the building, because there isn’t enough room for student housing.
According to a brochure put out by the city, a university would add local jobs to the economy through the purchase of goods and services, construction and from student and visitor spending.
The window for schools to request an expression of interest will be closed by early next week, and until then, the names of the interested schools will stay private, Dodson said.
The city will accept requests for proposals by next June and will start negotiations with the top two or three candidates, Owen said.
The Council should be able to announce which school they’ve chosen by the end of next year.