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Santa Fe College Benefits from Local Entrepreneurship


Written By: Erica Brown

GAINESVILLE, Fla.—When James Coats was 11 years old, he was unaware of the impact Santa Fe College would have on him, or that he would eventually be in the position to donate more than $1 million in equipment to Santa Fe College’s Institute of Public Safety (IPS).

Coats is CEO of Phalanx Defense Systems, LLC, based in Gainesville with offices located in the airport industrial park near SF’s Kirkpatrick Center. Coats’ company designs and manufactures innovative personal protective and armored gear for law enforcement, the military and the public.

In early February, Coats and his business partner John Perkins donated a little more than $1 million of new police and medical training equipment to Santa Fe College, including a variety of safety, support and utility belts, equipment pouches, medical pouches and related safety and medical gear.

“Since I was 11 years old, Santa Fe College has in some form or fashion positively influenced my life,” Coats said. “We had the opportunity to give back to our community and we chose Santa Fe College knowing that our donation would be appreciated and find its way into the community and truly make a difference.”

“We are truly appreciative of this donations and are happy to see the college’s impact on our community come full circle,” said SF President Jackson N. Sasser.

Santa Fe College does not yet have a plan for how the equipment will be used, but the donation will benefit students in one way or another. For example, it could help students at no cost understand the different training aids and safety gear associated with EMS and law enforcement careers. Knowing more about the various forms of safety equipment could ultimately help saves lives.

“We have the option of using the equipment in current IPS courses, or liquidating the equipment and using the funds raised to benefit students by putting it back into our programs,” said Tom Ackerman, director of SF’s IPS programs.

Coats knows firsthand of the top-notch education SF provides its students and is happy to see that his donation will be put to good use as many SF students dedicate their college studies and careers to saving lives and helping others.

“Many of my family members have attended Santa Fe College and the education they received coupled with the one-on-one guidance and scholastic nurturing gave them a competitive edge in the job market when they graduated,” Coats said.

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