According to Eric Braun, SSU vice president of advancement and external affairs, as well as others involved in the project, Shawnee State University was willing to invest up to a $4.5 million into the new Kricker Innovation Hub which formally opened in its freshly renovated location mid-Friday morning.
During the opening ceremonies, Braun said he was ready to try to rally donors to help SSU in reaching its funding goal for the Kricker Hub.
As it turned out, he didn’t need to make that effort.
In front of a packed house of several hundred people gathered in the former Elite Beauty School location at 221 Chillicothe St., Braun announced SSU and the center received confirmation that morning of a $2.8 million grant from the federal Economic Development Administration. Braun said he had not yet even informed the center staff of the reception of the grant but noted those dollars will fully fund development of the center.
Even before that announcement, various SSU and other community officials were all smiles as planners threw open the doors of the innovation hub intended to help foster and grow what Braun has described as a budding culture of entrepreneurship in Portsmouth. He and others see entrepreneurship and local investment in the community as key to the future of both Portsmouth and surrounding Scioto County.
“We are hoping that people who are perhaps operating small businesses out of their homes, they will have the opportunity to use and become part of what we call shared services,” Angela Duduit, SSU director of workforce development and entrepreneurship and one of the architects of the hub, said prior to the opening.
Essentially, the hub is intended to serve as a sort of one-stop shop for local businesses and entrepreneurs. Hub officials want to help with such topics as gaining funding for new business, staffing, marketing and social media and so on. The hub also will offer such practical services as providing a receptionist if needed by young companies, meeting spaces, access to a copier or even just a mailbox.
“The important thing about this project is its potential,” said SSU President and former university Provost Dr. Jeffrey Bauer, who approximately two weeks ago became at least SSU’s interim chief with the recent resignation of former president Rick S. Kurtz.
“What happened at the Kricker Development Hub, it’s just one more positive thing for the area,” newly named Portsmouth City Manager Sam Sutherland said following the ribbon cutting. “What a very nice development.”
“It’s a great day for SSU, it’s a great day for Portsmouth,” said local businessman and SSU supporter Jim Kricker, for whom the new innovation hub is named.
Even prior to the open house, the new hub hosted its first entrepreneurial speaker Thursday evening when Sam and Joyce Peters of Patter Fam Sauces and at least two other local companies gave a free talk at the hub on entrepreneurship. During opening ceremonies, Duduit said an additional conference on raising capital was held before a full house Friday morning.
“I’m proud to be part of this project,” she continued, declaring the hub is now open for business and inviting anyone interested to drop by and see what they have to offer.
For information on programs and workshops to be offered by the Kricker Innovation Hub go to www.SSUinnovation.com.