Kaitlyn Estopare – Staff Writer
The city of Mesa Arizona is increasing their investment in Benedictine University’s downtown Mesa campus by $2.15 million. With this investment the City Council of Mesa agreed to allow Benedictine to use a city-owned building for their upcoming expansion.
$1.7 million of the investment will be used for the construction of 10,000 square feet to build CO+HOOTS, a partner of Benedictine created in 2013 by Jenny Poon and Odeen Domingo, which offers opportunities for budding entrepreneurs, start-ups and small businesses.
“This is a key component of our attempt to establish a downtown innovation district,” said Jeff McVay, Mesa’s manager of downtown transformation.
CO+HOOTS was created in response to the Great Recession. Since then 300 small businesses were aided with their services.
The rest of the investments will be used for renovations to vacant areas of former South Side Hospital which will hold CO+HOOTS, classrooms for entrepreneurship, a new building entrance, reception area, office spaces, restrooms, break rooms and other improvements to facility areas.
The city and school have estimated it will bring 300 new jobs, developed businesses, new entrepreneurship academic programs and commercial coworking spaces over the next 10 years.
For this to start, the city of Mesa requires proof that Benedictine and Co+Hoots have finalized their partnership before construction begins.
In addition, Benedictine and Co+Hoots must create a certificate program in entrepreneurship and Co+Hoots must provide scholarships or internships for Benedictine students.
With this investment, Mesa has extended its lease with Benedictine till 2038 which will reduce rent prices for the University and opens up the option for Benedictine to actually purchase the property in 2033.