UIS DONATION TO SUPPORT THE CREATION OF A DOWNTOWN INNOVATION CENTER

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Photographs courtesy of OFFICE OF GOVERNOR J.B. PRITZKER

AN ARTIST'S RENDERING OF THE PROPOSED DOWNTOWN INNOVATION CENTER

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UIS has recently been granted an astounding $15 million from the Illinois state government to construct a new university building in the downtown Springfield area. While the exact plans are a mystery to UIS students, University of Illinois Springfield officials are in the very beginning stages of production for the intended proposal. The building would be referred to as the “Innovation Center” and would be part of a larger project known as “Innovation District,” according to official documents distributed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office. Details concerning the exact location and total cost of the project are undefined as of now, but UIS is not the only school being offered the opportunity to expand its campus presence. Many different public universities are being offered a portion of the $500 million in state capital funding. The money is primarily aimed at creating a system of public university-based “innovation” hubs, or rather places designed to help grow Illinois’ technology production and provide starting companies with initial support as they continue to grow.

Student response to the project is another detail yet to be confirmed. The idea to integrate parts of UIS into a more central and exciting location does have its benefits. Historically, the university has had issues creating a true sense of campus culture with it being so far outside Springfield – so much so that many students agree that UIS feels like it isn’t even a part of the Springfield area. Students do not really have much to do on campus and often have to leave UIS to enjoy their weekends. The creation of this building could allow UIS to feel more integrated with the events and excitement going on downtown and give them more of an opportunity to enjoy and explore what Springfield has to offer.

That being said, there are some hesitations about the project. Student responses raised some important questions considering the purpose and limitations of the proposal. Some students have concerns regarding the extra fees that will be added onto their student account with the building’s creation. Recently, students were already charged a large fee for the creation of the new Student Union, and it seems that prices will only continue to go up. Another concern for students is how they will be able to commute to the building. Many UIS students don’t have cars and are concerned with how the building will be utilized by a majority of students who will face issues trying to get downtown. Shuttle services could possibly be provided in order to accommodate students who aren’t able to drive themselves, but UIS students won’t know much until the project is further in production.