Alyssa Tyler editor in chief
This past week Pittsburg State University has announced new plans for the Kelce College of Business to move into the downtown district of Pittsburg. Along with this building, Pittsburg State University housing has announced plans of restoring the historic Besse Hotel to give more room for downtown student living.
This is apart of the Gorilla Rising Project, the next phase of Block-22 Educational Interprise District. Shawn xNaccarato Chief Strategy Officer at Pittsburg State, has described the new Kelce College of Business as the ‘crown jewel.’
“We will take that spot which is the BMO bank and we build a brand new facility for the college of business. That would be apart of a larger, overall vision, that Dr. Shipp has for an educational district downtown,” said the Dean of the Kelce College of Business, Paul Grimes.
Both the new building for the Kelce College of Business and reconstructing the Besse Hotel would cost approximately 50 million dollars. The university was recently granted a 12.5 million dollar grant, along with the 6-7 million dollars the College of Business has raised over the years for a new building.
The location for the new College of Business was not an accident. When those leading the project were looking at locations, the downtown district hosts a variety of different businesses on the same street.
“The big primary reason is, we are a business school, and that is our business district. That will put us right in the heart of a lot of things that are going on,” Grimes said. “Most importantly, Block 22 is right across the street from us. That facility has the entrepreneurial space, the makers space, its got those sort of things that we can tie curricular activities to.”
While this will benefit the university, there are larger goals for the community and city of Pittsburg.
“When President Shipp came in, one of the things that he was excited about coming to Pittsburg State was what we had done at Block-22. And what that represented as the initial ‘toe in the water’ of what we could do. Of how we can be a thought leader in higher education for developing, what we could call, the first micropolitan regional research university. That micropolitan being, not rural, and not metropolitan. That definition is a federal definition. But we’ve demonstrated the way of how universities can work with their communities for shared economic prosperity,” said Naccarato. “So when we combine the need for a better college of business for our students with our desire and the need, from the standpoint of enrollment, that growth and success that we can compete, attract, and retain those students. And combine that with our desire to be intentional about how we are deepening our connection and partnership with the community and the city. And to help drive the economy and give our studentsopportunities with businesses and within communities as well.”
The timeline for the new buildings have been described as ‘aggressive’ by both Grimes and Naccarato, with plans to get started in the next year. The timeline is not set in stone, but the end goal for the College of Business to be open and ready for students in the Fall of 2026.
“It will be a whole new era for business education. It’s going to give us access and opportunity to a lot of experiential activities in terms of classrooms. Because again, we will be right there in that part of the business district. We will be able to access business leaders, community leaders, it’s going to be a great experience for students. The most important thing is that we will have a building that will be designed for 21st century business education. We will have the classrooms, the collaboration spaces, the study spaces, the professional development spaces, we will have all of those things that we are currently lacking here in our 70 year old high school.”