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Utica University students to help operate Nexus Center

By Eric Reinhardt


A December 2020 photo of the construction site for the Nexus Center in downtown Utica. (PHOTO CREDIT: ZOEYADVERTISING.COM)

UTICA — Utica University will partner with the Nexus Center to provide students in the school’s sports-management program a chance to gain some professional experience helping to operate the new, almost 170,000-square-foot facility after it opens this fall.

The Nexus Center will allow students to have a “hands-on, interactive learning experience to help put their foot in the door” when searching for employment after graduation, the university said in a June 24 announcement.

Utica University President Laura Casamento and Mohawk Valley Gardens CEO Robert Esche announced the partnership that same day. 

“The ability to have experience on their résumé, genuine experience like facility management, corporate sales, ticket sales, running a tournament, and the financial end of an organization — I think that is where the real pipeline lies,” said Esche, who is also president of the Utica Comets minor-league hockey team.

Casamento also emphasized how “impactful” this project is for Utica and the entire region.

“We love when local students can find an opportunity to be educated and find meaningful careers here, raise their families here — that’s what it’s all about,” Casamento said. “It’s about growing our region. We need young people to stay here; that has been a part of the resurgence of Utica.” 

Joshua Ward, a member of the Utica University class of 2024, said this partnership will help students build a résumé and stand out to potential employers upon graduation.

“A lot of places require two to three years of experience before you even get the job, so it is better to learn the ins and outs of how the business works while you’re still in college,” Ward said. “You’ll have some experience to take with you to those first interviews.”

Construction continues on the Nexus Center but it should be operational by the beginning of November. It’s already fully booked from November 2022 until May 2023, and Casamento wants students to be there “as soon as the doors open” to start their learning experience.

In the last decade, the sports industry soared from 23rd largest to the 6th biggest industry across the country, Utica University said. The sports industry offers career opportunities that include communications, public relations, facility management, marketing, budgeting, and dealing with legal matters. Utica University currently has about 40 students in its sports-management program.    

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