University receives $2 million for innovative strategy
Alvernia University receives $2 million through the $1.5 trillion-dollar federal bipartisan appropriation package to fund Pottsville CollegeTowne, the innovative strategy of expanding the campus into the downtown area to continue its Franciscan mission of education, service and community engagement.
“The Pottsville CollegeTowne initiative is a collaborative project that will bring lasting change to Alvernia University and the City of Pottsville,” said Alvernia University President John R. Loyack. “We are grateful for the many partners in this initiative, including Representative Dan Meuser, whose shared vision led to the funding that will help us secure our footprint in downtown Pottsville and allow us to continue our efforts of expanding experiential learning opportunities for our students and sparking economic activity in downtown Pottsville.”
The university recently announced the purchase of a 30,000 sq. ft. building located at 500 Progress Avenue in downtown Pottsville that will undergo a $7 million renovation project to become the centerpiece for Pottsville CollegeTowne. Alvernia was able to finalize the purchase of the building after receiving a $3 million grant from the Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) in December 2021. With the federal spending appropriation and a $250,000 commitment from the City of Pottsville for the initiative, the university has received $5.25 million in funding for the project.
“Alvernia University has been a great member of the Reading and Pottsville communities,” said U.S. Congressman Dan Meuser. “Expanding their campus in downtown Pottsville will allow the University to improve students’ experience, offer new programs, and contribute positively to the revitalization of Pottsville. I appreciate President Loyack and the entire University community’s support and collaboration with my office to deliver federal funding that will be instrumental in completing this important project in the heart of Schuylkill County.”
Inside the new property, the total academic space span 17,000 square feet and will be transformed into a high-quality and high-tech academic community-based space. The academic spaces feature four staff/faculty offices, 10 classrooms, a modern wet lab and a state-of-the-art computer lab. The facility will also include a conference room and open entry way featuring an inviting and professional lounge area for students, faculty and community guests. The remaining space in the building is being repurposed by the university through strategic regional partnerships as the institution seeks to expand and enhance its service to the community.
Alvernia’s O’Pake Institute will partner Schuylkill County-based students with regional entrepreneurs, small-business owners, faculty researchers and industry leaders to enhance economic development in the region through the institute’s student-powered business incubator.
Alvernia is uniquely positioned and prepared to lead the Pottsville CollegeTowne initiative and plans to enlist other organizations and businesses such as the Schuylkill Chamber of Commerce and Pottsville Development Court to partner together to breathe new life and vitality into downtown Pottsville. The university looks to duplicate its early success of the CollegeTowne strategy in Reading, which has led to the start of several renovation projects spanning over 1,500,000 sq. ft. in the redevelopment of vacant buildings along the Penn Street corridor, record-breaking new student enrollment and assisting over 125 businesses and entrepreneurs through the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Announced in July 2021, Alvernia serves as a strategic enabler in the Pottsville CollegeTowne model, including community engagement, a student-centered entrepreneurial lab, academic programming and buildings that will enhance the student experience for current and incoming students.