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UHV academic facility to unite economic agencies across county lines

By Carolina Astrain
Nov. 19, 2013 at 5:19 a.m.

A rendering of the University of Houston-Victoria's incoming Academic and Regional Economic Development Building. The building's name was approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

IF YOU GO

• WHAT: Groundbreaking for the University of Houston-Victoria's Academic and Regional Economic Development Building

• WHEN: 4 p.m. Wednesday

• WHERE: The future site of the Academic and Regional Economic Development Building, north of the Center Building, 3007 N. Ben Wilson

• NOTE: A reception will follow in the Multi-Purpose Room of the Center Building

The groundbreaking of the University of Houston-Victoria's Academic and Regional Economic Development Building signals a new era of economic partnership in the Crossroads.

Part of the new building's mission is to unite economic development agencies across county lines, said Wayne Beran, UHV vice president for administration and finance.

"They're competing against each other right now instead of working together," said Beran, who has served in his position for the last 23 years. "We want to get them to start working together."

University officials and local business leaders will gather at the future site of the $12.5 million academic building for a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday afternoon. A reception will follow in the UHV Center Building's Multi-Purpose Room.

In 2006, the university was granted $8.5 million from state tuition revenue bonds for the construction of an economic development center, a 400-seat multipurpose room and 200-seat auditorium, Beran said.

An additional $3.2 million came from Higher Education Assistance Funds to be utilized for capital projects. The university plans to seek another $800,000 from federal Small Business Administration grant money.

The $800,000 the university is seeking from the federal government was granted to the university before but was returned because of a delay in construction plans, Beran said.

"The controversy of whether we were going to stay here or move toward the loop kind of slowed down that progress," Beran said. "But now that we've moved on, we can start building."

The 12-month project is expected to be completed in December 2014 and will be open for classes by the 2015 spring semester.

The third floor and a small portion of the second floor will remain unfinished and will be completed later as the university identifies its needs, Beran said.

Once the construction is complete, the UHV School of Business and Career Services will move into the new building, Beran said.

The Small Business Development Center Director Joe Humphreys and the university's economic development director - a new position yet to be filled - will also have offices in the new building.

"Those two positions will work hand in hand with each other," Beran said. "They'll be located in the same suite."

The rest of the SBDC staff will remain in their offices at the center's current location across Ben Wilson Street.

The new space comes as a welcome change because of the business school's growth in the past years, said Farhang Niroomand, UHV School of Business Administration dean.

"For the first time, the school of business has more than 1,000 undergraduate students," Niroomand said. "This is also the first time our undergraduate student enrollment has surpassed our graduate enrollment, which is at 865 this year."

Randy Vivian, Victoria Chamber of Commerce president, said the new building will be a great asset for the region.

"I'm looking forward to working with those entities to help build local businesses and strengthen our economic development," Vivian said.

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