JCC declines $2.5M in state funding for entrepreneurial center

WWNY JCC declines $2.5M in state funding for entrepreneurial center

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Jefferson Community College has turned down $2.5 million it received through the state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative. The college had planned to use the money to create an entrepreneurial center in downtown Watertown.

JCC President Dr. Ty Stone made the announcement Monday.

“Due to circumstances beyond our control, we regretfully must decline the DRI funding. The past five years have seen a shift in community needs, which compelled the college to reassess the original proposal which was drafted in 2015 and then integrated with the City’s DRI proposal in 2017,” she said in a prepared statement.

JCC had originally planned to create a tech center in downtown Watertown. Officials later changed the plans to launch an entrepreneurial center with access to technology.

The college looked at a number of downtown properties. However, no location was ever chosen.

“After exploring numerous options with various stakeholders, we have not been successful in developing a sustainable business plan for a second Watertown location,” said Dr. Stone.

She said the COVID-19 pandemic along with a drop in enrollment let the college to scratch its plans.

“We just don’t know what is going to be next as it relates to COVID and what our recovery is going to be or any of those kinds of things and we made the decision that we should probably focus the resources that we have on the work that we do best, which is teaching and training,” said Dr. Stone. “We are disappointed, however, know that there are other worthy projects in downtown Watertown that surely can benefit from DRI funding.”

Watertown City Planner Mike Lumbis says Watertown will talk with the Department of State to see if the money can be reallocated to another project.

Dr. Stone said JCC will remain focused on providing students the best educational experience at the Watertown campus and at the Lewis County Education Center in Lowville.

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