University of Dayton President Eric Spina
At nearly 100,000 square feet, much of The Hub overlooks the atrium. This innovation center is already pulsing with the anticipation of hundreds of creative people — from budding entrepreneurs from across the Miami Valley to student makers and creatives — sharing space, collaborating and learning from each other daily.
I can envision students picking up coffee and a bite to eat from The Hub’s café, a student-run enterprise featuring a menu curated through the Greater West Dayton Incubator, before walking through Innovation Hall to an entrepreneurship class, a capstone course in sustainability, or studios for painting, printmaking and graphic design.
Along the way, they might pass a fledgling start-up company, the satellite office of a Fortune 500 firm, and professionals from every walk of life working in shared offices and conference rooms. In the Institute of Applied Creativity for Transformation — an incubator for social innovation — students and faculty from a variety of majors will invite community leaders to creatively brainstorm new approaches for battling problems like the opioid crisis or food insecurity. In the L. William Crotty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, students will start their own micro-companies as they learn lessons from local entrepreneurs working in offices down the hall.
While university-anchored innovation hubs are popping up around the country, this will be one of the largest and most ambitious, thanks to the indefatigable spirit of community leaders and the imagination and perseverance of a team of creative, collaborative minds who saw beyond the disrepair, worked through the complex financing — and envisioned a renaissance.
It’s a renaissance worthy of being called “the most transformative project in America.” And it’s a renaissance that’s here.
Eric F. Spina is president of the University of Dayton.