Recognizing Hobart and William Smith’s commitment to the City of Geneva and its continued revitalization, Empire State Development (ESD) has awarded the Colleges a $250,000 grant to support renovations at the Bozzuto Center for Entrepreneurship, the new downtown space dedicated to the Colleges’ entrepreneurial studies programming. ESD is New York’s chief economic agency and the grant was recommended by the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council.
“The Bozzuto Center for Entrepreneurship is a launching point for students to develop their entrepreneurial ideas and to inspire innovative solutions to local challenges with a global impact,” says President Gregory J. Vincent ’83. “Together, our efforts with the Geneva community have the potential to make a measurable difference in issues ranging from food deserts, employment and environmental justice.”
Located at 22 Castle St., the Center is a student workspace designed to host hackathons, social innovation challenges, seminars and events that draw individuals to downtown Geneva. The Center also will serve as a hub for connecting students and faculty with area entrepreneurs and community members. The grant will support infrastructure renovations that will maximize the space’s capacity and subsequent economic impact on the community.
The Center is named in honor of Chair of the Board of Trustees Thomas S. ’68 and Barbara M. Bozzuto, who recently gave $3 million to support critical programming and operations of the space. The Center hosts related academic and co-curricular programming like the Centennial Center’s Idea Lab, Innovation Academy and Pitch competition, and houses office space for the Colleges’ Margiloff Family Entrepreneurial Fellow, who helps develop academic programming and collaborates across campus and with external stakeholders and entrepreneurs.
The new funding is the latest investment by New York State in downtown Geneva. In 2016, Geneva was awarded a $10 million grant as part of the state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative, and other funds have been awarded to the Smith Center for the Arts and the Dove Block redevelopment. The $100 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative was launched by New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo to encourage economic development and boost local economies in 10 communities across the state as they work with regional economic development councils.
“HWS is constantly delivering on their promise to make Geneva a great place for their students to learn,” says Geneva City Manager Matt Horn. “This has the added effect of making it a great place for our residents to live and work.”
The program’s downtown presence is “both symbolically and functionally significant,” considering Geneva City Council’s emphasis on the strategic importance of entrepreneurship to the city’s economic development. Because “downtown represents our greatest concentration of entrepreneurs,” Horn says, “it’s an incredible fit for the students and staff. Functionally, students will gain unique access into the workings of hundreds of small businesses with live entrepreneurs who are getting their ideas off the ground.”
Founded in 2015, the Entrepreneurial Studies Program at HWS emphasizes the conceptual understanding, practical skills and ethical structure necessary for business or civic leadership. Students explore and hone the analytical and critical thinking skills of a liberal arts education while pursuing projects and coursework focused on creating non-profit or for-profit enterprises, or leading innovation within existing organizations. Entrepreneurial Studies, which is the fastest growing minor at the Colleges, launched its downtown presence earlier in 2017. More than 180 students have declared the minor.