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Celebrating a City Center Outpost
Hundreds attend Hubbard Building open house.
Kristine Goodrich, Mankato Free Press, 9-15-2017
Inside a crowded Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Minnesota State University, Mankato student John Ruprecht made flower vases on a 3-D printer and new graduate Brandon Poliszuk showed a television commercial he produced for a local fitness gym.
Ruprecht has his own small business making a variety of custom 3-D printed objects and Poliszuk has started his own marketing firm.
The young men are examples of the entrepreneurs Minnesota State Mankato leaders aim to support in a new downtown Mankato facility.
An open house Thursday evening celebrated the new Minnesota State Mankato Strategic Partnership Center. Four university offices and programs have moved into the Hubbard office building on North Riverfront Drive.
Real estate developer Curt Fisher donated space in the building, which previously was occupied by Ridley. Fisher said he felt called to do something more innovative than dividing it into traditional office space.
“I’m excited to see what new opportunities will grow in this building,” he said.
Minnesota State Mankato leaders said they hope the more accessible downtown site will help the university expand partnerships with businesses.
It is Minnesota State Mankato’s first downtown presence in nearly 40 years. The university started downtown nearly 150 years ago and opened its upper campus in 1959 because there wasn’t enough room downtown to grow, according to President Richard Davenport. All programs were consolidated onto the current campus in 1979.
“It’s taken us four decades to get back down here,” he said. “I think this is a good thing for the university but it’s an especially good thing for the community.”
The Hubbard building is now home to university’s strategic partnerships administrators, the Center for Talent Development, the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and the South Central Small Business Center.
The Center for Talent Development provides continuing education courses and customized training programs for businesses.
The new Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s mission is to “facilitate the launch of the next generation of entrepreneurs, innovators and dynamic organizations through education, outreach and research.” The center has equipment such as 3-D printers as well as group meeting spaces for entrepreneurs to use. The center’s staff are hosting entrepreneurship classes and providing individualized resources to student and community entrepreneurs.
The South Central Small Business Development Center provides one-on-one counseling and classes for prospective and existing small business owners. Associate Regional Director Julie Nelson said she’s noticed an increase in walk-in visitors since moving downtown this spring.
Poliszuk is among a handful of entrepreneurs leasing office space in the Hubbard building and utilizing Minnesota State Mankato resources now in the same building.
Greater Mankato Growth President Jonathan Zierdt said bringing together the university and business community closer together will build a climate that attracts more “innovative talent” to Mankato.
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