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UIS makes purchase of downtown Springfield building official

Blake Wood - UIS Public Relation

The University of Illinois Springfield is now the official owner of a building at 401 E. Washington St.

The three-story, 24,600-square-foot building will next undergo renovations. It is set to open in 2025 as the home of the UIS Innovation Center, one of 15 hubs of the Illinois Innovation Network. The mission is to drive innovation, economic growth and workforce development across the state.

“The purchase of the building helps us move to the next step,” said UIS Chancellor Janet Gooch. “It really gives us a chance to stretch our boundaries at UIS and contribute to Springfield and the Springfield community.”

The new Innovation Center will include:

*Innovate Springfield, UIS’ business incubator, which will double its capacity to help develop new businesses and launch a startup accelerator. It currently supports 81 member companies that added more than 280 jobs to the local economy last year.

*Technology labs, makerspaces and experiential labs where entrepreneurs, researchers and industry partners together can develop and test product prototypes.

*New workforce and professional education initiatives to support local employers, as well as expanded internship and fellowship programs for several UIS academic programs.

*Space for the UIS Center for State Policy and Leadership to collaborate with other policy institutes on research and analytical services related to critical issues such as community health, education and career access, and environmental protection.

*Collaborative space for philanthropies, social service agencies, faculty researchers, students and lawmakers to analyze and implement strategies for the advancement of social progress.

When the purchase was first announced, University of Illinois President Tim Killeen called it a crucial step.

“IIN was created to serve as a transformative network of networks, harnessing the brainpower of our state’s public universities to collaborate on local and regional issues and create opportunities that benefit Illinoisans from the Ohio River to Rockford and every point in between,” Killeen said.

The University of Illinois Board of Trustees approved the purchase of the $950,000 building from the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association at its July 2022 meeting. The development of the UIS Innovation Center is funded by a $15 million state capital contribution through the University of Illinois and Illinois Innovation Network. Design work for the building renovations will soon begin, with groundbreaking and construction scheduled for mid-2024.

“We are all eager to begin the design phase of this exciting new space and start our work with industry, government and community partners to build a robust and inclusive human capital pipeline that will accelerate our regional economy and advance social prosperity,” said Bruce Sommer, UIS director of economic development and innovation. “We are grateful for the UI BOT and Illinois taxpayers who have provided their confidence in us and directed us to make this investment in Illinois' future.”

The project will also make UIS more prominent downtown, a goal that has been discussed for years.

“We have a unique role as a capital city university,” said Chancellor Gooch. “Having that presence downtown where things are happening, especially with government and policy, the opportunity for our students and faculty to contribute to those efforts in the downtown space takes it to a next level.”

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