Jefferson Community College’s goal to create a TechSpace Center in Watertown has received an unexpected boost.
About $1.2 million was allocated to the proposal last year as part of the state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative. Watertown was awarded the $10 million grant in 2017.
Developer Brian H. Murray planned to use the $1.2 million that he received in DRI funding to restore facades on more than 25 downtown buildings. But various circumstances compelled him to withdraw from consideration.
The state recently notified JCC that it would be given this unused $1.2 million, doubling its funding. In addition, JCC will receive a $4 million through the NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant Program. This is excellent news for college officials, who are pursuing a worthwhile project.
“According to DRI documents that describe the project, the TechSpace would meet the immediate need for workforce training space and allow the college to provide new opportunities for corporate training and industry partnerships,” a Feb. 16, 2018, story in the Watertown Daily Times reported. “The space also would serve entrepreneurs through new programming and an innovative fabrication lab, where businesses can share cutting-edge technology and other high-tech equipment. It also would expand opportunities for applied learning, create new programs that align community and workforce needs, and increase adult learning enrollment at JCC, according to DRI documents.”
The tricky part of this plan for JCC, however, has been in identifying a workable site for the TechSpace Center. JCC President Ty A. Stone said representatives from the college toured the site of the now-closed Concentrix call center on Arsenal Street. They also looked at the Masonic Temple, 259 JB Wise Place, Woolworth Building and Dealmaker building.
“JCC officials were eyeing the Empsall Building on Court Street, but the Children’s Home of Jefferson County has tabbed that space for its downtown expansion. The JB Wise Place building is in litigation between its owners and former owner,” according to an Aug. 16 story in the Times. “The Dealmaker building is outside of the city’s downtown DRI boundaries, she said. The Woolworth Building doesn’t have any parking, although it’s a beautiful building with a lot of windows, President Stone said.”
This project would create a closer connection between JCC and downtown. It would enhance economic development and benefit people needing workforce training in this area.
We encourage property owners to come forward if they believe they have buildings available that could fit the bill. Let’s give college the resources it needs to get this proposal off to a good start.