Samuel Northrup, Editor-in-Chief
Plans for Utica College’s construction management facility have hit a roadblock.
A source familiar with college operations revealed to The Tangerine that UC’s proposal to the federal Economic Development Administration (EDA) to cover the remaining costs — nearly $2.4 million — for the new facility was denied.
News of the denial came nearly two weeks after U.S. Sen. Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced his support for UC’s application to the EDA at a press conference in the Carbone Family Auditorium. The college has raised $2.8 million in private and state funding towards the overall cost of the facility.
“It’s time to put cash on the nail and build UC’s construction management training center,” said Schumer, addressing construction management students on Feb. 19.
George Nehme, vice president for advancement at UC, has lead funding efforts for the planned facility, which includes $3.5 million in construction costs and nearly $600,000 to outfit the building with educational equipment and technology.
For Nehme, he knew the application process would not be a “slam dunk” but was “profoundly disappointed in the news,” considering UC passed the EDA’s initial review process.
“There wasn’t anything that changed in the preliminary round that was advanced to the full application stage,” Nehme said. “If there was something wrong with our application, we should have been kicked out of the system during the preliminary round.
“We felt very positive about our chances, so it was a big let down for us and our CM students, for sure.”
At this stage, Nehme said construction plans have not changed and the initial completion date of September 2019 for the facility remains.
“We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that we already have $2.8 million in commitments, and we in the Advancement Office have continued to meet with prospective donors and to solicit them for their support of the building,” Nehme said. “The good news, in the middle of all this disappointing news from the EDA, is that the project is alive and well, and we will be moving full-steam ahead.”
While raising personal donations, which have accounted for the majority of funding with the help of a $1 million donation made by program alumnus Gary Thurston, will continue, according to Nehme, college officials are currently evaluating the outlook for federal funding and will work in conjunction with the offices of Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) to find a solution.
“We may at some point go down to Philadelphia, which is where the [EDA] review committee is, to actually meet with individuals there because we would like to know specifically why they denied the application when we passed the preliminary stage,” he said.