An innovative approach to a community and economic development project has been nationally recognized by the University Economic Development Association (UEDA) with the 2012 Award of Excellence.
The project, entitled “Kemper Military School Redevelopment Project: Repurposing historic structures, maintaining community values,” facilitated by Boonville resident Jim Gann, director of technology business development at the University Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship housed with the MU Small Business & Technology Development Center, was developed as an approach to use the 46-acre Kemper Military School campus, which closed in 2002.
Its loss cost the city of Boonville, Mo. its sole institution of higher education and hundreds of cadets as well as positions for instructors and administrative support staff. Through a series of planning sessions and meetings with educational administrators and city officials, a partnership was established through which State Fair Community College opened a new campus on the Kemper grounds in September 2012. The campus is expected to draw hundreds of students, many of whom will be local residents who no longer have to commute, and up to 50 part- or full-time jobs.
“Winning this prestigious award is a great honor,” said Max Summers, director of the MU Extension Business Development Program, the administrative home for the SBTDC and the University Center. “It speaks to the dedication, imagination and persistence of Jim, our organization, State Fair, the city of Boonville and other partners in growing Missouri’s economy by smart, sustainable means. This project is a model of effective redevelopment that can be replicated nationwide.”
State Fair is the second tenant of the repurposed campus. The city of Boonville purchased the grounds in 2003, converting some green space to football, baseball and other playing fields and leased a building to the Boonslick Heartland YMCA. That facility now serves 2,700 members and supports 48 part- or full-time staff.
With shared services of recreation in place and the prospect of additional educational, food service or housing on campus, all components are in place to support a variety of entities.
Other potential tenants are being reviewed for suitability and best fit to fully rejuvenate the campus, maintain its historic appeal and attract more investment.
For more information on the project, go to http://universityeda.org/