Beginning this fall, Centre College students will have unprecedented opportunities to learn about business, entrepreneurism and community development in a hands-on, practical manner thanks to the creation of CentreWorks, a new space for innovation and collaboration.
Located in downtown Danville, CentreWorks will allow members of Centre’s campus community and the broader Danville and Boyle County region to collaborate, combining their creativity, expertise and experience to study and resolve complex problems, start new businesses, make connections, practice skills, develop knowledge and hone leadership.
The new venture will launch this summer with a unique and timely entrepreneurial bootcamp for up to 30 incoming students in anticipation of full programming for the entire campus in fall 2020.
Titled “Resilience,” the program scheduled for late August will focus on reimagining communities in a post-pandemic world.
The project has been shepherded by Ellen Goldey, Centre’s vice president for academic affairs and Dean of the College, who is excited about the opportunities CentreWorks will provide to solve current, complex problems in novel ways.
In fact, Goldey said, “Now is the ideal time to launch CentreWorks, precisely because of the pressing need to consider new paradigms in these challenging times.”
The bootcamp exemplifies this perfectly and is the brainchild of CentreWorks Co-Directors Andrea and Anthony Margida, who also own and operate the consulting company, TechGrit.
“As current events are demonstrating,” said Anthony Margida, “resilience is key to sustainable and thriving businesses, organizations and communities.”
In fact, Andrea Margida emphasized, “People are realizing how much we need each other and how much stronger we are collectively. CentreWorks is all about collaboration.”
The Resilience Bootcamp will offer students the opportunity to gain skills essential to business and entrepreneurship through immersion in customer engagement, design thinking and lean startup principles. Using a speed design format, they will experience community engagement through creative problem-solving exercises alongside community champions.
One such community champion is Jody Lassiter, president and CEO of the Danville–Boyle County Economic Development Partnership (EDP), an organization with which Centre has enjoyed a long partnership.
“CentreWorks will represent a new and exciting chapter in our collaboration,” Lassiter said, “providing a physical space as well as intellectual and material resources for students, citizens, businesses, entrepreneurs and civic leaders to synergize their capabilities and achieve desired solutions.”
In particular, Lassiter envisions CentreWorks as an important resource to allow the EDP and the broader community it serves to “up its game” in entrepreneurship development.
“Entrepreneurs often seek to interact with others of like mind,” Lassiter added, “and most often find these circles and supporting resources in metropolitan markets. CentreWorks will position the Danville micropolitan to be much more competitive in this arena by becoming an attraction for entrepreneurial capital.”
That said, CentreWorks also plans to collaborate beyond Danville and Boyle County, working with the Community and Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky (CEDIK), based at the University of Kentucky.
Alison Davis, who directs the CEDIK program, anticipates “limitless” opportunities for collaboration.
“I believe that capitalizing on Centre’s strengths and building entrepreneurial capacity can lead to wonderful innovations, not only in the private market but also by finding solutions to wicked social issues,” said Davis.
Additional support for all these efforts is provided by Associate Director Andrew Patrick, an assistant professor of history. Patrick’s new CentreWorks role recognizes his expertise in community-based and experiential learning and his ongoing work with the College’s Center for Teaching and Learning.
The CentreWorks space, on the third floor of the Hub Building in downtown Danville at the corner of Main and Third streets, is being developed by the Owensboro-based Malcom Bryant Co., whose president is Centre alumnus Madison Silvert ’98.
Work on the renovated space will soon be underway, based on blueprints conceived to offer a modular approach that includes offices, open work spaces and a maker space. Barring interruptions impacted by COVID-19, a public opening is envisioned for late fall 2020.
by Michael Strysick
April 10, 2020
Header photo: CentreWorks will occupy the entire third floor of Danville’s historic Hub Frankel building at the corner of Main and Third Streets.