Posted on Wednesday, June 27, 2012
In what is being called the single largest influx of employees into downtown Geneva in recent history, Hobart and William Smith Colleges announced today that 70 employees will relocate downtown thereby boosting the City in its economic development efforts.
Employees from the Colleges will occupy 18,486 square feet of the currently vacant Five Star Bank office space located at 22-24 Seneca Street. The leased space will remain privately owned and on the tax rolls. The first 40 employees - the entire Office of Advancement - will move to Seneca Street in August with staff from other administrative departments relocating later in the year.
"This move follows our consistent and steady efforts to expand our partnership with Geneva while also adding to the vitality of downtown life," says Hobart and William Smith Colleges President Mark D. Gearan. "Geneva is reaching a tipping point in its revitalization process with a renewed and pervasive sense of optimism resulting from the successful establishment of so many new restaurants, shops, businesses and a thriving farmer's market. They join established businesses with long family histories of commitment to Geneva. Together, they are working mightily to energize our downtown. It is our hope that the relocation of HWS employees downtown will add to this momentum. We believe that other businesses will discover what we have - that downtown Geneva is a wonderful and supportive place to work."
Maureen Collins Zupan '72, P'09, the Chair-elect of the Hobart and William Smith Colleges Board of Trustees agrees. "The Board of Trustees values the important role that the City of Geneva plays in the life of the Colleges," says Zupan. "We are proud to support the local Geneva economy in this way and look forward to finding new and creative opportunities for collaboration."
Hobart and William Smith Colleges have made a number of investments in the City of Geneva in recent years including direct payments to assist the City budget, donations to non-profit organizations, and support of civic projects. The Colleges contribute on average about $2 million each year to the community. Other recent projects include:
First payment in Geneva Partnership Agreement
Confirming the Colleges' commitment to the City and the people of Geneva, in January, Hobart and William Smith Colleges made its first of 10 annual payments to the City of Geneva. Over the course of the next decade, the Colleges will provide the City with $1.6 million in revenue to assist the City in balancing its budget.
As a result of the Colleges' decision to refinance capital project debt through the Geneva Local Development Corporation, approximately $200,000 has been made available to the LDC. The LDC has already begun investing the user fee in economic development and neighborhood revitalization projects.
Hobart and William Smith Colleges have partnered with the Geneva City School District on a new initiative called Geneva 2020 which seeks to harness the resources of the Colleges and the Geneva community to provide assistance in four key areas identified by GCSD as being critical to the future of Geneva's children: graduation rate, career and college preparedness, literacy, and communications.
Property behind Geneva Towne Plaza on Hamilton Street
In order to facilitate the development and completion of the Tops project, earlier this year, Hobart and William Smith Colleges deeded a strip of land behind Geneva Towne Plaza on Hamilton Street to the developer of the Tops and Peebles projects. This land was deeded at no cost to the plaza developer to ensure a smooth process for the project, which will move Tops into the City limits.
Five years ago, the Colleges donated nearly $400,000 to help renovate the Geneva Recreation Complex Skating Rink, enclosing the rink from the elements and providing a first-class surface for Geneva Youth Hockey and HWS athletics. This year, Hobart and William Smith have partnered with the City of Geneva to create a new playground located near the lakeshore. To jumpstart the project, the Colleges donated $25,000 to the effort, a quarter of the total cost of the playground. The Colleges are also spearheading fundraising for the remaining monies and last month secured a grant of $20,000 to help make the playground a reality.
In 2010, under the leadership of Professor Emeritus of Economics Patrick McGuire, the HWS Department of Economics and the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning conducted an economic and community service impact study. The purpose of the study was to identify the specific spending and employment impacts of the operation of the Colleges on the Geneva area economy. In addition, the study sought a specific measure of the contribution of students and employees to the Geneva area community.
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"The Colleges continue to demonstrate that they are true partners in Geneva's success. Through their efforts on campus, with the Local Development Corporation, and now in downtown, Geneva is proving itself a model City with respect to campus and community relations."
- Ron Alcock
Mayor, City of Geneva
"The attraction of high-quality, professional employees to downtown has been a critical focus of our economic development program. Through this expansion into the Business Improvement District, the Colleges have, once again, demonstrated their commitment to promoting a healthy, vibrant community in Geneva."
- Matt Horn
City Manager, City of Geneva
"This initiative is excellent news for Geneva that will help our taxpayers, contribute to the city's revitalization and encourage further job creation. I applaud the Colleges' President Mark Gearan and Hobart and William Smith Colleges for their continued commitment to supporting growth and
development in Geneva."
- Michael F. Nozzolio
State Senator, R-Fayette
"The partnership with HWS has been very rewarding in so many ways; we have enjoyed the benefits of days of service, volunteers, interns, focus groups and numerous support services. With more than 70 employees moving into the Five Star offices located on Seneca Street, we have a welcome influx of downtown shoppers and diners. Equally important is that downtown now has a great tenant in HWS filling prime office space. This great partnership will continue to grow and benefit the city and the district."
- John T. Hicks
Executive Director of the Geneva Business Improvement District
"This is very exciting news to have Hobart and William Smith Colleges moving 70 of their employees to the downtown area. We are happy to have them utilizing one of our city offices and bringing such a large group onto Seneca Street will bode well for our retail community for both product and employment. All of us at the Chamber look forward to working closely with HWS as this transition proceeds."
- Spike Herzig
President of the Geneva Area Chamber of Commerce
"It's a testament to the vitality of Hobart and William Smith Colleges that they need more space to expand. The fact they have chosen to use space in downtown Geneva is exciting for long-term economic development in the City."
- Alan Bishop
Chair of the Board, Geneva Area Chamber of Commerce
"The Colleges already do so many things for the benefit of the community across a broad range of involvements, but it's great for those of us who believe in downtown and its future to see HWS make such a meaningful and tangible commitment to Geneva's continuing downtown revitalization. This is tremendous news, and a deliberate decision on their part that hopefully will cause others to take a serious look at downtown's potential as a great place to work, shop, play, dine and live."
- Dave Bunnell
"For close to a year now, the Geneva Human Rights Commission has been the sole tenant of 22 Seneca Street. We've been very satisfied with its central location and especially pleased with our landlord, Five Star Bank. It will be a pleasure to watch the balance of the building now come to life as we look forward to meeting our new neighbors. The close proximity of our offices (GHRC and HWS) makes perfect sense based on our ongoing partnership project (funded by HUD) and the social justice activities we often find ourselves jointly engaged in. I believe the presence of 70 additional professionals working on Seneca Street is bound to have a positive impact on local businesses and restaurants, and will add a certain vitality to the downtown landscape."
- Karen Baer
Executive Director, Geneva Human Rights Commission
"On behalf of Finger Lakes Health, we are excited to be among many others to welcome HWS professionals downtown. We moved our Human Resources and Information Services staffs to downtown Geneva in late 2011. Our health system employees appreciate the positive benefits of being in the center of Geneva and embrace being part of the downtown community. It is wonderful to see Hobart and William Smith Colleges' commitment to downtown as one of the many tangible ways the Colleges add value and make the City of Geneva so vibrant."
- Dr. Jose Acevedo, M.D., M.B.A.
President and CEO, Finger Lakes Health