Will a downtown college campus help revitalize Millville, New Jersey arts district?

Marianne Lods looks out the gallery windows of the Riverfront Renaissance Center for the Arts in downtown Millville, New Jersey.

Down the block is the Regional Music building under new ownership and renovation. Farther down High Street is the Arts Cafe, which hasn’t yet opened but now has a sign above its doors.

And one block farther is the new and massive Millville Arts & Innovation Center — the new Cumberland County College campus — which is spearheading a revitalization of business and culture in the local arts district.

Lods doesn’t think resurgence is too bold of a word to describe the energy on High Street, the college’s new $6.9 million building gets underway.
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For college President Yves Salomon-Fernandez, the college’s mission and economic development are tied together.

To that effect, Salomon-Fernandez said she’s working with the city, the Greater Millville Chamber of Commerce, the Cumberland County Improvement Authority, and other organizations to make the campus a significant part of the downtown business district. “We are adopting a concerted, unified approach for moving forward,” she said.

The concept of a Cumberland County Arts & Innovation Center began with the need to expand space for the Clay College, which has been a part of the Millville downtown for more than 10 years. As officials from the City and the County College met to discuss expanding opportunities, a broader vision began to emerge.

The architectural firm of Manders Merighi Portadin Farrell was engaged to develop a concept for this facility. Assistance from the Cumberland County Improvement Authority was also enlisted to prepare a project pro-forma and to provide gap financing for the project.

What emerged from this effort is a facility that would provide approximately 21,000 square feet of educational, retail and innovative space. The Arts and Innovation Center will be located at 321 N. High St., Millville, NJ in the heart of the Arts District and the City’s downtown.

The two-story building will house the former Clay College on the first floor and the Fine Arts program and general education courses from the main campus on the second floor. Also, there will be innovative programs in Cybersecurity, Luthiery, and Beverage Tourism/Tasting Room Management. The College will continue to sustain, enhance, and create new credit and Continuing Education programs to benefit of students and community.

Its presence in Center City Millville enhances its accessibility to small business locally and regionally.

This $7.7 million dollar project will greatly expand the entrepreneurial resources and programs available to students and business. It will enhance the ongoing investment in the Millville downtown and spur additional development and commerce.

See full article by Maxwell Reil & Thomas Barlas in the Press of Atlantic City.

See Cumberland County College website & image credit.

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