College and Community Present Cooperative Plan
WASHINGTON, PA (Nov. 22, 2002)—Washington & Jefferson College and the City of Washington unveiled a cooperative plan today that will stimulate downtown revitalization and serve as a model for how colleges can make significant contributions to the social and economic well-being of their local community.
The plan, titled "Blueprint for Collaboration," outlines ways in which the college can leverage its assets to create synergies in the downtown business district and generate revenue for the City of Washington. The blueprint suggests that the college explore opportunities to move its bookstore into the downtown area, develop student housing in the downtown area, and help to make downtown a primary eating, shopping and visiting destination.
The idea for the collaborative effort grew out of an intensive four-month engagement in the spring of 2000 with the Knight Collaborative, a national initiative designed to explore ways in which colleges and universities can become strategic partners in local community revitalization efforts. Participants in the project included Washington & Jefferson College, Franklin & Marshall, Michigan State University and the State University of New York (SUNY) College at Geneseo.
W&J's involvement with the Knight Collaborative set the foundation for a planning process with the City of Washington that began eight months ago, shortly after the college was awarded a $50,000 grant from The Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation. The college used the grant to hire Elizabeth Waters of Charlottsville, Va., a consultant who specializes in the planning process for community and economic development, environmental protection and historic preservation. Waters, along with a steering committee of college and city officials met with leaders from the local business, government, and non-profit communities to develop the plan.
"Washington & Jefferson College is committed to a continuing partnership with the community," said Brian C. Mitchell, president of Washington & Jefferson College. "We recognize that the college and community are inextricably linked and that it is in our best interest to work together so that we may both enjoy a bright future."
The Blueprint for Collaboration also identifies ways in which W&J's academic offerings might better serve the community. The college's Information Technology Leadership Program and Office of Life-Long Learning are academic areas that may be tapped to enhance the technical capacity of local businesses and expand the availability of workforce training and continuing education.
Recently, the City of Washington implemented a downtown revitalization project that features new sidewalks, landscaping, and fiber-optic cables. The Blueprint for Collaboration is expected to build on the City's revitalization project over the next five to ten years. President Mitchell announced that the college will convene an investors roundtable comprising federal and state officials, the banking community, commercial interests, and potential investors.