New UCCS downtown campus means business

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UCCS DowntownThe two-story building at 102 S. Tejon St. known as the Alamo Corporate Center annex used to blend right into the streetscape.

Now, after a makeover by Nor’wood Development Group, the former red-brick building that houses the downtown branch of UCCS has been transformed into a sleek and sophisticated, taupe and glass structure that jumps out like the mountain lion graphic adorning its façade.

Inside are a 36-seat classroom that will soon be fitted with advanced audio-visual equipment, a 16-seat seminar room with a long table for community meetings, an office for the center’s director and a large open space facing Tejon Street furnished with four-top tables, a cushy sofa and chairs for group learning and conversations, study areas and a wet bar.

The UCCS Downtown center was launched Sept. 10 with a door-opening ceremony held outside the distinctive building. It is already getting lots of use, said Stephannie Fortune, executive director of Regional Connect, a group of campus and community leaders that conceived the idea for the facility.

Classes are being offered by the College of Business and School of Education.

The center’s Mini-MBA program met for the first time at the center Sept. 11. The Teacher Leader Academy, a leadership program for teachers who want to advance in their careers, meets every Saturday.

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The center also is welcoming business and community groups.

“Last week, we had the City for Champions spend time here in the afternoon to talk about strategy,” said Fortune, who is serving as part time, interim site director. Several community committees, including Regional Connect and an alumni group, have met or scheduled meetings at the center.

“This is truly a milestone moment for UCCS,” Chancellor Venkat Reddy said when the center was announced in June. “We really want this to be one of those centers where people just walk in. I can visualize UCCS alumni walking inside and get a cup of coffee. We want to engage with alumni, with donors and with prospective students.”

Reddy asked business owners to consider providing internships, scholarships, opportunities, and “one-on-one moments — maybe you’ll be mentoring our students there.”

The university is working out a revenue model that can contribute to the success of downtown, Finley said.

The Mini-MBA course, one of the most successful and popular programs offered by the College of Business, certainly has the potential to help do that. After students complete 13 weeks of classwork, they will have 75 days to implement a capstone project with a direct business impact of at least $75,000.

Students in last year’s inaugural class completed projects that represented more than $2.8 million in achieved and planned financial impacts.

“The goal for us long term is to have a real permanent branch of the university’s campus downtown that really engages with specified curriculum that supports those workers in the downtown, attracts new workers to the downtown, and also is a fabulous addition to supporting all of the great activity that you see happening on Tejon Street,” said Chris Jenkins, CEO of Nor’wood Development Group.

Editor’s note: This is an excerpt from a story that will appear in the Sept. 21 edition of the Colorado Springs Business Journal. Read more Friday.

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