Group tours JCC’s planned entrepreneur education hub

Published: Oct. 13, 2022 at 4:53 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - A timetable is set and work is underway on Jefferson Community College’s downtown Watertown hub for entrepreneurs.

It’s described as a transformational project for Franklin Street.

On Thursday, Advantage Watertown, a city improvement consulting group, walked through the strip of vacant Public Square properties. The old storefronts will become JCC’s hub for entrepreneurship education.

“This is my first time with this in-depth discussion. I think it’s a great project. It’s unique to the area and I think it’s really going to invigorate Watertown,” said Dr. Jason White, chairman, Advantage Watertown.

According to JCC Associate Vice President for Strategic Initiatives Dr. Megan Stadler, the site will provide much-needed office space for local entrepreneurs and small businesses. She says it’s a natural fit for the community.

“We know that small businesses drive the north country economy. Any time the college can serve a community need, that’s an absolute win and it’s very exciting,” she said.

Leading a tour of the site was Reg Schweitzer. His organization, Neighbors of Watertown, is heading up renovation efforts. The funding itself comes from a $2.5 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant through Empire State Development.

“What makes this transformational is the fact we’re going to get the space utilized and people in it again. It’s also going to be the sort of people that are starting businesses and looking to create a little space of their own,” said Reginald Schweitzer, executive director, Neighbors of Watertown.

Also included is a remodeling of what used be Club Rio next door, formerly the Strand Theater. It’ll be available to rent out as an all-purpose venue with a stage, mezzanine conference room, and a rooftop lounge.

According to Schweitzer, exterior work should be done by the end of the year. The site itself should be open for business next fall.