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Le Moyne to use 2020 to plan for “entrepreneurial plaza” project

By Eric Reinhardt

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Le Moyne College plans to use a state grant of nearly $500,000 for a project that will add an “entrepreneurial plaza” and “makerspace lab” to the Le Moyne Plaza at 1135 Salt Springs Road. The funding is part of the Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) awards announced in Albany on Dec. 19. (ERIC REINHARDT / CNYBJ)

SYRACUSE — Le Moyne College will use the remainder of 2020 to plan for the $2.45 million project that will redevelop the Le Moyne Plaza into an “entrepreneurial plaza.”

The school will utilize a state grant of $485,000 to help pay for the project.

The funding is part of the Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) awards announced in Albany on Dec. 19. Le Moyne’s grant is part of $86.2 million in funding announced for projects in the five-county Central New York region.

“We’re going to spend the remaining part of 2020 coming up with the plan,” says Jim Joseph, dean of the Madden School of Business and special assistant to the president. “We probably will start construction late this year or [in] early 2021.”

The college is hoping to have project finished by the fall semester in 2021. Le Moyne still has to choose the contractor and architect for the project, Joseph notes in his Jan. 7 phone interview with CNYBJ.

Besides an “entrepreneurial plaza,” the project will also include a “makerspace lab.” Both will operate in the Le Moyne Plaza at 1135 Salt Springs Road. The plaza will be reconfigured and “act as an incubator, accelerator and shared workspace for entrepreneurs across all industries.” 

The makerspace lab will be a collaborative workspace open to people of all ages in the community. It will include a mechanical room, virtual lab, woodshop, 3D printing lab, and shared work spaces. Both will be under the auspices of Le Moyne’s Keenan Center for Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Creativity.

The entrepreneurs who will use the space will come from three places, according to Joseph. Le Moyne students, those involved in the StartFast Venture Accelerator program, and anyone from the Central New York community at large that has an idea or a startup business.

StartFast is a value-add pre-seed venture firm that makes five new investments each year in SaaS (software-as-a-service), e-commerce, marketplace, and IoT (internet of things) businesses, per its Twitter page.

Le Moyne needs the space to be as “flexible as possible,” says Joseph.

“We very much see this as a revolving door … continually pumping out businesses that out grow us into the Central New York community,” he adds. 

“This project is clearly a win-win for Le Moyne and the entire Central New York region,” Le Moyne President Linda LeMura said in a statement. “It will serve to strengthen the academic offerings the College provides for our students, while also deepening our ties to the local community. We will create a vibrant, state-of-the-art facility that will be utilized by the public in a variety of ways, from K-12 students to entrepreneurs at all stages of development.”

The Plaza currently has tenants that include Dunkin’ Donuts and a Barnes & Noble bookstore. When asked about their status, Joseph indicated Barnes & Noble would remain in operation and the future of Dunkin’ Donuts in its space is up to the company. 

Joseph says he gets asked why Le Moyne wants to offer the plaza to the public at large. He says he tells people it’s part of the school’s Jesuit mission.

“If someone has an idea or wants to start a business or has started a business within the community that can utilize our services and that become a springboard for them to create jobs in the community then we have fulfilled a big part of our Jesuit mission,” he explains.        

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