Greenville University has received a $999,968 grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) to renovate a three-story historic building that will foster economic development and business partnerships. The building is located in downtown Greenville, Illinois.
The building, located at 102 N. 2nd Street and named The Greenville SMART Center, will function as the center of operations for the Greenville SMART initiative. Greenville SMART unifies the resources and connections of Greenville University with the entrepreneurial spirit of local businesses to create a symbiotic University-community relationship that fosters economic growth.
After renovations, all three levels of the Greenville SMART Center will offer valuable services to the community.
Level one, a retail and commerce center, will provide space for social and informal collaborative gatherings. It will include a coffee shop and a pitch area for entrepreneurs to present their ideas. Level two will offer work space for business incubators and start-ups. It will include shared resources such as a conference space and workshop space. A symposia and auditorium will reside on level three for events, guest speakers and other community engagements.
Greenville University anticipates a strong, positive impact on the local economy as a result of Greenville Smart and the entrepreneurship center. “We anticipate through our market base that over the next five years, this initiative could generate 80 jobs,” says Mike Aden, Project Manager. He estimates 6-10 businesses will utilize the space directly to start with. The center could indirectly benefit many additional businesses as it will provide space for leaders, entrepreneurs and University students to conduct video conferencing with business partners around the world.
Greenville University chose the historic downtown building because of its proximity to local businesses and its potential to become a “hub” for economic activity.
Greenville University President Ivan Filby comments, “Although many buildings and spaces in Greenville could have accommodated the initiative, we thought it imperative to add value and vibrancy to the downtown square.”
Suzanne Davis, VP for University Relations, adds, “The square represents the heart of the community and that’s where we want to be. Preserving the historic look with modern features will make the space special and unique for community members and students alike to enjoy.”
In addition, renovations will benefit the center’s closest neighbors. Renovations will reinforce the structural integrity of the storefront block and will include an elevator that will be shared with the building next door.
Davis and Aiden attended the Greenville City Council meeting Tuesday evening to explain the project. The university is asking the city to contribute TIF funds for the elevator in the building. The council took no action and plans to consider the request at its February meeting.
For additional information contact Suzanne Davis at 618-664-7004.