The University of North Florida (UNF) is in the process of unveiling its Center for Entrepreneurship in downtown Jacksonville to its students, partners and the overall community.
Located in the renovated historic Barnett National Bank Building on Adams Street, the Center was made possible by a generous gift of $1 million from Luther and Blanche Coggin.
“The Coggins have had an enormous impact on the future business leaders in Northeast Florida and beyond with their long history of investing in higher education,” UNF President Dr. David M. Szymanski said. “We are eternally grateful to Luther and Blanche for their efforts to ensure student success.”
According to UNF, the Center will serve as a hub for creativity, business development and learning. The university will occupy two floors of the building, one for classrooms and the other for business development. Classes started the week of Jan. 7 for graduate students within the Coggin College of Business’ Master of Science in Management program; MBA program classes are anticipated to begin in May.
UNF officials said the Center will be a living-learning lab, providing students with opportunities to assist entrepreneurs with market and financial analyses, statement creation, planning and more. The ultimate objective is to propel local business growth by building a strong and sustainable entrepreneurial climate for the success of UNF students and the community.
According to the university, the Center will function as a place where entrepreneurs can pitch their ideas to a panel of experts in hopes of being selected to receive office space and support to work through their plans. Support will be provided by UNF faculty and students as well as through involvement of community members.
The Northeast Florida Small Business Development Center and Small Business Administration will also have a presence to connect aspiring business owners with additional resources and advice.
The university has appointed alumna Karen Bowling as the new director of the Center for Entrepreneurship.
“Karen is a strong asset to our University,” Coggin College of Business Dean Dr. Mark Dawkins said. “I’m confident that her extensive management experience will bring the Center great success.”
Bowling, a Riverside resident, has more than 30 years of experience in both public and private companies within the healthcare, government and technology industries. Prior to joining UNF, she served as president of Thrive Consulting, LLC. in Jacksonville where she consulted in the healthcare and government sectors. She previously served as chief administrative officer for the City of Jacksonville, the CEO of 34 Solantic Urgent Care Clinics and in various communication roles at healthcare firms.
She currently serves as chair of the Florida State College of Jacksonville Board of Trustees, as well as a member of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. Bowling received a Bachelor of Arts in literature from UNF.
UNF is hosting a grand-opening ceremony for the Center on Feb. 4. The event, however, is not open to the public.
For more information, visit https://www.unf.edu/coggin/Giving_Back/Center_For_Entrepreneurship.aspx.