LIMA — As one of the larger pieces of downtown Lima’s economic revival, Rhodes State College’s involvement with the southeastern block of Town Square has many Lima residents wondering exactly what impact the institution’s expansion may have on the city.
But since its plans are still set in a preliminary phase, many of those questions remain unanswered until the stakeholders in the investment — city officials, private businesses, students, department heads, college administrators, etc. — can sit down and hash out the finer details.
Kevin Reeks, the executive director of development at Rhodes State, visited the Kiwanis Club of Lima Tuesday to lay out some of the concrete facts behind the Rhodes State expansion, as well as give insight into what it might become in the future.
The $20 million project aims to bring 500 students initially into Lima’s downtown area to learn at the new branch campus named the Center of Health Science Education and Innovation. Currently, the college aims to expand some of its nursing programs into the building, but the increase may not include just those considering the medical field.
Rhodes State is looking at a number of partnerships with other organizations in the region to see how their downtown presence could be utilized by other businesses looking for training spaces, Reeks said. For example, Reeks showed a preliminary render of the new building that included a skywalk over South Main Street that could connect the Rhodes branch with Veterans Memorial Civic Center.
Such a partnership between the two entities could provide students with kitchen areas just across the street and catalyze the expansion of the college’s culinary and food science programs.
The walkway would also mean the new building would be easily accessible by the downtown parking garage and the Wingate Hotel, which could lead to more professionals coming into the region for specialized training programs that require shorter stays.
Rhodes State could also attract more individuals into the area, and eventually, Reeks said the college could help Lima become an educational hub for a 25-county region.
The current timeline for the downtown Rhodes State project sets a completion date of Fall 2020.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.