The Thurston County Economic Development Council and South Puget Sound Community College will partner to open a new entrepreneurial center on Sixth Avenue in Lacey.
The center is expected to open in early 2015 once renovations are complete to one of the main buildings at the Rowe Six office building complex, the eventual home for the community college’s Hawks Prairie campus.
The college announced about a year ago that it had paid $4 million for Rowe Six and its five buildings, totaling about 100,000 square feet.
The first building to undergo renovations, which will eventually be home to the school, the entrepreneurial center and the EDC, measures about 50,000 square feet and fronts Sixth Avenue in Lacey across from the Intercity Transit center. The college could spend as much as $8 million to renovate the first building, according to an EDC news release.
EDC executive director Michael Cade envisions that the entrepreneurial center will serve budding entrepreneurs and help to support key industries in the region, using the resources of the EDC and the college. Other partners include the city of Lacey, Thurston County Chamber of Commerce, Saint Martin’s University and Joint base Lewis-McChord.
That’s one area the center hopes to serve: former soldiers who want to remain in the area and go into business for themselves, Cade said.
Key industries in the region include health care, wood production and manufacturing, tourism and food production, he said.
Meanwhile, the college, too, expects to open its Rowe Six campus in 2015 after it relocates its existing Hawks Prairie campus, which currently occupies leased space between Marvin Road and Galaxy Drive in Lacey.
The college has leased the space since 1995, college spokeswoman Kellie Purce Braseth said.
Rowe Six wasn’t the college’s original destination for a new campus after the college spent $6.2 million to purchase property off Marvin Road in Lacey in 2005. But then the real estate market collapsed and the college headed in a different direction.
The college still owns the Marvin Road property, she said.
Rowe Six, though, is an ideal alternative because it is opposite the transit center and is near Saint Martin’s University, a library branch and other amenities, Braseth said.
The other hope is that once the college is under way at Rowe Six, it will stimulate other business activity in the area, including the largely vacant buildings that make up Woodland Square Loop, a nearby complex of office buildings that were hit hard by the downturn in the economy.
Cade thinks the entire area will benefit from the campus at Rowe Six.
“I’m a big proponent of synergy,” he said. “It could be a big shot of synergy to the entire district.”
Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403 firstname.lastname@example.org theolympian.com/bizblog