By Sarah Smith
Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of stories on York College and some of the key issues it faces moving forward.
York College’s Knowledge Park is set to open in the spring of next year and is designed to be a learning center for students, where businesses can work alongside students, and students can get hands-on business experience, crucial for getting a job after college. Here’s what college President Pamela Gunter-Smith recently had to say about the Knowledge Park.
Q, Would you say that the Knowledge Park is pretty much the focus of York’s industrial development right now?
A, I would say, yes and no. There are other projects that are in the city that have a similar focus. They haven’t really come through yet. Half of the Knowledge Park is funded by what’s called a RACP grant from the state. And so it’s very much thought of as being part of the economic development of York. So I would say it is one of the major pieces. But it’s unique in that we’re not opening it to be landlords. We’re opening it for what it’s going to bring, really for our students and our faculty.
Editor’s note: RACP stands for Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program. You can find more out more about it at this link.
Q, How much has the school’s footprint grown since you became president?
A, The major pieces of property that we’ve bought since I’ve been here is the Colonial Shopping Center, and the two smaller buildings next to it. One used to be Wellspan, the other has the real estate. So in terms of what I have been involved in, it’s actually three properties, those are the ones I’ve been involved in. But as a percentage, a much smaller percentage of what you see.
Q, Are there any plans to purchase any more land for initiatives such as the Knowledge Park?
A, Right now? No, but it’s only because I haven’t seen the opportunity yet. The property and the building that the Knowledge Park is on was purchased by my predecessor, I think in 2012-ish or something like that? And it’s certainly going to be something that’s going to be major for us. During my time, we’ve purchased the Colonial Shopping Center [at the intersection of South George Street and Country Club Road), and that was for the future. So sometimes you buy property or you do things strategically that will have a benefit maybe not immediately but in the future. So that was across from my engineering complex, and our business incubator, the J.B. Brown Center [410 Kings Mill Road]. People thought it could be a residence hall, it could be an arts building, it could be for chemical engineering, but then the opportunity came to use it as the Knowledge Park. Think of it as a tech park kind of thing. But we have businesses that are already looking forward to moving in. These businesses want to be in a place where they can ultilize the expertise of faculty and students, and ultimately our students. So, when we bought the Colonial Shopping Center, it was for the future. You know, it’s right across the street from the hospital.
Editor’s note: Knowledge Park is a 40-acre piece of property that once housed the historic Schmidt & Ault paper mill. York College of Pennsylvania first purchased this land next to the Civil Engineering Center, along Kings Mill Road and overlooking the Codorus Creek, in 2008. Click here to watch a video produced about the project, located near South Penn Street and Kings Mill Road.
So it could be, first of all, it’s strategic in that it allows us to determine what happens on that corner. That corner is one of the busiest sites in York County, and it’s strategically located. So I don’t know what we’ll do with it. Some people say we could have a coffee shop on the lower level, then have a residence hall on the top level. It could be the School of Nursing and Health Professions. So I don’t know. But what it means is that we have options in a very strategic place. I don’t have my eye on anything else right now. I will give you another example that happened before I came. We purchased the townhouses at Manor and Springettsbury. And now we have the Springettsbury Apartments for students. I think the role of the president is to not only think about what’s happening now,but to keep in mind about how to strategically position the college in 10 years, 15 years, 20 years from now. So I don’t have my eye set on anything right now, but if something came up that we think would be of strategic benefit to the college, even if it’s not immediate, for the long term, we would probably take it.
Sarah Smith is a senior Professional Writing student at York College of Pennsylvania. In addition to writing for the Spartan, she is also an assistant online editor for the York Review, and you can find her at one of her three jobs around campus