Thursday, January 19, 2023

Alvernia University Holds Grand Opening of New Pottsville Collegetowne

On Thursday, Alvernia University held a grand opening celebration of its new Pottsville Collegetowne.

The event included a blessing, ribbon-cutting ceremony, open house, and Schuylkill Chamber of Commerce Mixer.

The newly renovated 17,000 square foot facility is the former site of the Giant Supermarket at 500 Progress Avenue.

“The greatest success of CollegeTowne is not buildings or programs or redevelopment, it is that it has us all working together on all those things and more,” said Alvernia University President, John R. Loyack. “Thank you to Congressman Dan Meuser, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Wolf, Senator Dave Argall, State Representative Tim Twardzik, the Schuylkill County Commissioners, Mayor Clews, City Council, WKL Architects, Sordoni Construction, our dedicated faculty and staff, and numerous community partners that have stepped forward to help Alvernia expand its mission and enhance its students’ experience.”

The new facility has been transformed into a high-quality and high-tech academic community-based space. The academic spaces feature four staff and faculty offices, 10 classrooms, a modern wet lab and a state-of-the-art computer lab featuring Bloomberg Terminals. The facility also includes an interfaith room, community conference rooms and open entry way featuring an inviting and professional lounge area for students, faculty and community guests. The remaining space in the building is being repurposed by the university through strategic regional partnerships as the institution seeks to expand and enhance its service to the community.

"This is a huge step in the right direction for our community," said U.S. Rep. Dan Meuser. "The funding that we provide will deliver more than return on investment, it will return opportunity, it will return an opportunity for the American Dream, it will return great outcomes for our community and for all the students that will so greatly benefit by all the work that’s been done."

Alvernia’s O’Pake Institute for Economic Development and Entrepreneurship is partnering with Schuylkill County-based students, regional entrepreneurs, small-business owners, faculty researchers and industry leaders to enhance economic development in the region through the institute’s student-powered SPARK! business incubator. After assisting over 220 businesses in Reading over the past two years, the O’Pake Institute will bring a similar model to Schuylkill County.

“We are very proud of the entrepreneurial ecosystem the Reading CollegeTowne initiative has sparked and look forward to establishing this ecosystem in Pottsville and the greater Schuylkill County region,” said Alvernia Vice President of Research, Economic Development and Innovation, and Chief Operating Officer for the O’Pake Institute for Economic Development and Entrepreneurship Rodney Ridley. “All of us, working hand-in-hand to build new businesses as well as retaining & growing our established businesses. This is the type of progress we envision, and based on the welcome we have already received, we expect the community’s support to be nothing short of remarkable.”

Through cutting edge credit certification programs for local employers and new bachelor’s and graduate degree offerings to meet the changing needs of local industry, Alvernia’s School of Graduate and Adult Education will address the needs of the county’s adult student population. This includes 23.5% of Schuylkill County residents over the age of 25 who started college but did not earn a bachelor's degree and the 12.6% of residents who started college and did not earn any degree.

“Since its founding, Alvernia has been a place for first-generation college students and non-traditional students juggling family life and new career opportunities, and this new campus will meet the needs of those students,” said Alvernia Senior Vice President and Provost Glynis Fitzgerald. “If you reside in Pottsville or the surrounding communities and are contemplating a career change, career advancement or are interested in finishing the education you started two or 20 years ago, now is the perfect time to start a new chapter, and Alvernia’s Pottsville CollegeTowne Campus is the place to create your comeback.”

Alvernia finalized the purchase of the building after receiving a $3 million grant from the Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) in December 2021 secured by Senator Argall, Rep. Twardzik, and Rep. Joe Kerwin (R-125).. With the federal spending appropriation and a $250,000 commitment from the City of Pottsville and $100,000 commitment from the County of Schuylkill for the initiative, the university has received $5.35 million in funding for the project.

As the new Chair of the Senate Education Committee, it’s exciting to welcome a new college campus open in Schuylkill County,” said Senator Argall. “This is just the latest in a long list of positive developments for Pottsville, including the new businesses that have opened their doors and the sixty new upper floor apartments in development at the Schuylkill Trust Company building. This is a proven strategy to breathe new life into an old downtown.”

“I am appreciative of the solid leadership and effort by Senator Argall in securing funding to transform this downtown site that once helped feed the community,” said Rep. Twardzik. “Now this newest Alvernia CollegeTowne will nourish minds and create jobs and additional investments. The cooperation and teamwork between public officials and private citizens prove we in Schuylkill County can make things happen. I’m positive that our report card would be an A+.”
 
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