Overhead view of the Dayton Arcade Complex

UD’s plans for a ‘shark tank’ in Dayton Arcade would turn it into innovation hub

If the rehab of the Dayton Arcade moves forward, the University of Dayton expects to be one of the anchor tenants, jointly overseeing more than 100,000 square feet of space in the southern portion of the complex.

UD plans to relocate its L. William Crotty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, as well as some staff and faculty offices, into a new “innovation hub” inside the arcade, said Paul Benson, UD’s provost. 

The arcade would host traditional classwork, and co-sharing spaces would allow students to work together with start-up enterprises, Benson said.

About 17,000 square feet of the arcade is set aside for event space, including a “shark tank” area for business plan competitions, university officials said.

“We see this space as really providing a new venue for interaction among and with entrepreneurs,” he said.

RELATED: University of Dayton could arcade anchor tenant, prez says

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley speaks to a large crowd at a recent event where the state awarded the Dayton Arcade project $5 million in historic tax credits. TOM GILLIAM / STAFF
Photo: Staff Writer

By the end of the year, the groups that want to rehab the massive arcade complex should know if they’ve secured the financing needed for the project to get off the ground, city officials and developers say.

Plans for the arcade include 80,000 square feet of innovation space, 60,000 square feet of retail and restaurants, 40,000 square feet dedicated to the arts, 22,000 square feet set aside for public events and 126 apartments.

UD plans to team up with The Entrepreneurs Center to be joint anchor tenants overseeing the new innovation hub.

The hub would encourage interactions and collaboration between students, teachers, entrepreneurs, start-up companies, venture capital groups, corporate partners and others. Officials hope Sinclair College, Wright State University and Central State University bring some of their programs into the innovation hub.

Below the arcade’s iconic rotunda, some of public event space would be used as a “shark tank” for business plan competitions.

The Dayton Arcade, which opened in 1904, closed its doors for good in 1991. Shops once lined this passageway that leads from the Third Street entrance to the center rotunda area. LISA POWELL / STAFF
Photo: Lisa Powell

University officials said these spaces are important tools for entrepreneurs to develop and hone their business proposals.

UD already supports new ventures through its Flyer Pitch competition, which is among the the largest business plan contests at the collegiate level with more than $100,000 in cash prizes and $100,000 of in-kind support awarded, school officials said.

These types of competitions would be held in the shark tank.

UD wants to become the university of the “common good,” and school’s highest priorities include focusing on social good and creating and expanding economic opportunity in the city and across the region, Benson said.

“The arcade really is embedded, very centrally, in the vision that we set forth in the coming decades for UD’s work,” Benson said.

RELATED: UD leader says arcade is ‘show of good faith’ in partners, community

The university has one of the top-rated entrepreneurship programs in the nation, as well as the fourth-largest student-run business in the nation (Flyer Enterprises), Benson said.

UD was ranked as the No. 11 best school in the country for undergraduate entrepreneurship studies by The Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine, according to the university.

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