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Rochester Institute of Technology once again will be downtown.
After closing its downtown office space in the mid-1990s, RIT is returning with a new Center for Urban Entrepreneurship in the site of the former Rochester Savings Bank.
The historical landmark building, which covers 47,000 square feet over four floors, was donated by Rochester Historic Ventures. It will serve as the home for the new center and will be converted into a multiuse venue for other RIT activities, university officials said.
William Destler, RIT president, said the university’s ultimate goal is to create a multidisciplinary center in the city that can leverage existing resources and promote economic development and business creation.
“Downtown Rochester is at a critical development juncture,” Destler said in a statement. “RIT’s presence will serve as a catalyst and assist in a downtown resurgence. With a focus on entrepreneurship, we see potential for reshaping the region’s economy through new business development.”
The center is set to open next fall.
RIT officials estimate it will take $1.2 million in capital improvements to refurbish the building, and another $2 million to $4 million to prepare it for programming needs. The university is looking to secure funds from the federal government.
The building was acquired by Rochester Historic Ventures in 2011 with a vision of allowing more people from the community to “enjoy this architectural gem, with a larger dream to bring more students downtown,” said Amy Tait of Rochester Historic Ventures, who also serves as chairwoman and CEO of Broadstone Real Estate LLC, in a statement.
RIT was responsive in considering uses for the buildings and coming up with an exciting proposal, she said.
“This is a donor’s dream come true—it hits all the buttons … education, historic preservation, entrepreneurism, job creation, and urban revitalization,” Tait said. “We couldn’t be more delighted.”
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., was briefed on the project. Schumer worked with RIT on submitting a $250,000 grant to the U.S. Economic Development Administration last month to begin the initial planning and design work for the building’s renovation, officials said.
RIT officials said the plan is to engage students and alumni with downtown businesses and community organizations.
“Our vision is to engage and train the community on how to get into business and then grow a business. We will teach the science of entrepreneurship,” said dt ogilvie, dean of RIT’s E. Philip Saunders College of Business. “The center will offer entrepreneurship as a career alternative.”
She has experience in this realm, having been the founding director of the Center for Urban Entrepreneurship & Economic Development at the State University of New Jersey, Rutgers Business School at Newark-New Brunswick.
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