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Downtown project moves forward

By Ashley Cole Editor

Setember 12, 2013

Artist renderings courtesy of Jenkins Peer architects
The University is in the process of buying two buildings in downtown Pembroke, which will be renovated into a business incubator. The tentative completion date is spring 2015.

On Aug. 23, Chancellor Kyle R. Carter received confirmation from the Economic Development Administration that the $932,000 grant for the Downtown Development Project had been approved.

This, along with a $200,000 grant from the Golden Leaf Foundation, gives the University $1,132,000 to move forward with the project.

The University will buy two buildings downtown, which will be a little more than 16,000 sq. feet.

This project will create what Dr. Carter refers to as a “business incubator,” with anywhere from eight to 12 office spaces where potential businesses will be able to work.

“If you think about the idea of an incubator, you take an infant and they stay in there until they get stronger and then you take them out,” Dr. Carter said. “That’s the same concept as those people that have ideas about business.”

The building will also house the Thomas Family Center for Entrepreneurship and the Small Business Technology Center.

The Downtown Project is a step in the right direction for Dr. Carter’s goal of integrating the University with the town of Pembroke.

“It’s going to create a pathway, and it’s going to bring people together so that merchants downtown are really excited about our students and faculty coming there,” Dr. Carter said.

According to the Chancellor, the idea of putting an incubator downtown has been in the making for at least the last two years.

He first unveiled this plan at the Board of Trustees meeting on Feb. 17, 2012.

Within those two years, Dr. Carter has met with the town manager, the mayor, the Chamber of Commerce and members of the town council and said they’ve expressed “enthusiasm and support” for the project.

“It’s something I really think all people are excited about,” Dr. Carter said.

The expectation for this project is that it will greatly benefit UNCP students and faculty.

“What’s exciting to me is that it not only becomes an economic engine for Pembroke and the region but it becomes a laboratory for our students,” Dr. Carter said. “Faculty will be providing advice and counsel to the clients, but students will be a part of that advising team.”

While business and entrepreneurship students and faculty will benefit most directly from this project, Dr. Carter hopes it can impact a variety of students on campus.

In the Feb. 23, 2012 edition of The Pine Needle the Chancellor said, "We want students to have a place to go downtown where they will be able to study, gather and work.”

The University is currently in the process of purchasing the buildings.

The next step will be to talk with the architects and come up with a detailed design for the space.

After that will be a request for proposals where contractors bid on the project based on what they see in the design.

Dr. Carter expects that whole process to take five to six months and said they would be fortunate to begin construction at the end of the spring semester.

With this time frame, Dr. Carter hopes the project will be completed by spring 2015.

“Much good will come from this project, and I’m really pleased for the university and local community,” Dr. Carter said in an Aug. 28 communiqué. 

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