One of the older buildings in downtown Jacksonville will soon house one of the newest concepts from the University of North Florida.
The university is holding the grand opening Monday for its Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the renovated Barnett National Bank Building on Adams Street.
The school says a $1 million grant from Luther and Blanche Coggin helped make the new vision possible.
"The potential is here to expand in so many ways," says Karen Bowling, the new director of the Center for Entrepreneurship. "You've got to start some place because we are essentially a start-up ourselves. Not the university, but clearly the center."
She says the momentum downtown right now was a major reason the school chose the location. It will give aspiring entrepreneurs the chance to easily get to the building while also giving the businesses and employers they'll be working with the accessibility from their end as well, Bowling says.
UNF will occupy two floors of the building, one for classrooms and the other for business development.
Classes started the week of Jan. 7 for graduate students within the Coggin College of Business’s Master of Science in Management program. Other classes are set to start in May, according to the school.
The Northeast Florida Small Business Development Center and Small Business Administration will be available, helping to connect hopeful business owners with helpful resources and advice.
Bowling says the center will be a place where entrepreneurs can pitch ideas to experts in exchange for possible office space and support. That support will come in the form of assistance from school faculty and students as well as members of the community.
"I really do liken it to a playground, because people will come here and be surrounded by like-minded people," Bowling says.