James McClendon, Asst. News Editor
Utica College has received a $100,000 grant from The Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida County as a part of the downtown expansion project.
The grant will be added to the almost $1.4 million already collected in a capital budget for the move to the Clark City Center in downtown Utica.
James Norrie, the dean of the School of Business and Justice Studies, and future President, Laura Casamento, have been working on this project since he arrived at UC in the fall of 2013.
Norrie knew that in order for this project to be successful they would need to find support from many different sources.
In August 2015, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a $500,000 Empire State Development grant to facilitate the relocation of the Utica College business program. This grant, paired with a private gift from Trustee Bob Brvenik, has made up a large portion of the funds in the capital budget.
A key component of the budget is that all of the government grants come with a matching requirement. Brvenik’s $500,000 investment made it possible for UC to receive these government grants.
“We were really fortunate to have in Bob Brvenik a generous person who understood the vision for what we are trying to accomplish and is on that journey with the school,” Norrie said. “Im very proud of the relationship between the business school and Trustee Brvenik.”
When its door officially open in the fall, the business school will be named after Brvenik.
The grant received from the community foundation will go a long way to facilitating the opening and operation of the downtown business school.
“We always had in mind that we would be able to tap some local grants from the Community Foundation for downtown rejuvenation,” Norrie said. “All the excitement about what’s happening downtown has to be fueled by folks like the Community Foundation, the county, the governor, and the city. It was a natural request to have them support the business school because of the impact it will have on downtown and on the city of Utica.”
Alicia Dicks, President and CEO of The Foundation, talked about how the downtown expansion project will help rebuild downtown Utica back into the industrial power it once was.
“Utica College is making a larger scale investment in the future of downtown Utica which has served as the urban center for the region and needs to once again thrive as a place of innovation and vibrancy,” Dicks said. “Utica College has the vision and fortitude to make an impact on revitalizing a city center as it brings students, faculty and staff into the fabric of downtown, creating opportunities for further development and investment.”
The transition of the Utica College business school to downtown Utica comes at great costs, however, the benefits far outweigh these costs. Utica College hopes to rely entirely on the government grants and private gifts from supporters in the community to fund the project.
“Our objective is to make this a debt-free transaction for the college,” Norrie said.
Thanks to the support of granting agencies, like the Community Foundation, Utica College students will learn the skills required to succeed in the business world in an environment which features the latest innovations and tools.
The new Utica College business school will serve as a sign to the community that progress is coming back to the city of Utica.