SSU announces downtown investment


PORTSMOUTH — On Friday afternoon, Shawnee State University (SSU) announced its intention to invest in downtown Portsmouth in creating a Chillicothe Street Corridor to its campus.

According to released information, the university’s plans include renovation of three of its properties 314, 310, and 308 Chillicothe Street to locate several existing university offices, including its Development Office, the SSU Development Foundation, Alumni & Community Relations, and Career Services.

“Our hope is that our presence downtown, along with a stronger visual connection and pathway for students to walk to and from Chillicothe Street, will pave the way for future development in this area,” SSU President Rick Kurtz, said in a released statement.

There are several organizations working towards the revitalization of downtown Portsmouth, particularly, Main Street Portsmouth (MSP) and the Southern Ohio Port Authority (SOPA).

MSP Executive Director Joseph Pratt said he’s excited about the announced and is pleased SSU is finding creative uses for the buildings they own in downtown.

“Their (SSU) plan is to bring certain services and students downtown. To me that’s a goal I would like to see accomplished,” Pratt said. “Even if it’s three buildings downtown with services, that’s the first step to getting more students and (SSU) staff downtown.”

SOPA Executive Director Jason Kester agreed with Pratt, getting more people into downtown Portsmouth is always a good thing.

“The new investments in buildings on Chillicothe Street will drive traffic to Chillicothe Street, which will lead to more activity on Chillicothe Street and will have a secondary impact of increasing foot traffic which will lead to an increase in business downtown,” Kester said.

Within its announced plans SSU is working towards developing plans and has partial funding to create an Innovation Accelerator that would be located in this renovated space.

The Innovation Accelerator is anticipated to include space and resources for students, faculty, and regional businesses to collaborate on projects, business ventures, and educational opportunities.

“Our goal with the Innovation Accelerator is to promote entrepreneurship and innovation,” Eric Braun, SSU Assistant to the President for External Affairs and Executive Director for Development, said in a released statement. “This is the exact type of campus-community partnership that we want to see in the downtown area.”

SSU also plans to use one of the properties it owns on Chillicothe Street and turn it into a streetscape-designed corridor between campus and downtown.

SSSU plans the first phase of the project to be completed fall 2016.

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SSU President Rick Kurtz addressing an audience in the Vern Riffe Center For the Arts. President Rick Kurtz addressing an audience in the Vern Riffe Center For the Arts.

By Wayne Allen

[email protected]

Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 1933 or on Twitter @WayneallenPDT

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