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Reading CollegeTowne initiative takes first step

Alvernia University expands into downtown Reading after entering into a letter of intent agreement for a location on Penn Street as the genesis for the Reading CollegeTowne strategy. The site is the former CNA building, located at 401 Penn Street. “Partnerships and collaborations over several months with multiple parties have brought us to this spectacular win-win situation,” said Alvernia President John R. Loyack. “This is what Reading CollegeTowne is all about—everyone working together,” he added. Alvernia serves as a strategic enabler in the Reading CollegeTowne model, which includes engagement, student housing, a student-centered business incubator, academic programming and buildings. Alvernia’s recently re-imagined O’Pake Institute for Economic Development and Entrepreneurship will be the catalyst for educational and business expansion in downtown Reading. “We want to focus on developing student-centered entrepreneurial services in our new downtown space that will bring life to innovative ideas in an effort to create new ventures for downtown Reading,” said associate provost and vice president and chief operating officer for the O’Pake Institute Dr. Rodney Ridley. “Through student-centered entrepreneurial services, partnerships with the local community and associated resources, we will enhance the local entrepreneurial ecosystem by adding new and unique activities to help increase the success rate of businesses, especially at the beginning stages.” Over the next several weeks, Alvernia will work toward a purchase and sale agreement of the location, which is currently occupied by the I-LEAD Charter School. “I-LEAD is excited to be able to work collaboratively with Alvernia to realize the vision of Reading CollegeTowne,” said I-LEAD, Inc. CEO David Castro. “We have a shared commitment to education, economic development and entrepreneurship in the heart of the greater Berks community.” Alvernia’s founders, the Bernardine Franciscan Sisters, have provided educational and social services to the residents of downtown Reading for 124 years. Given the success of the Alvernia’s Reading Collegiate Scholars and College Readiness programs, Alvernia will utilize the Reading CollegeTowne strategy to expand its mission and promote grassroots efforts to engage city residents to better meet the needs of the city’s underserved population. Alvernia is uniquely positioned and prepared to lead the Reading CollegeTowne initiative and will enlist other organizations and businesses such as Berks County Community Foundation, Greater Reading Chamber Alliance and Berks Alliance to partner together in breathing new life and vitality into downtown Reading. “As a graduate of Reading High School, I recall many memories of seeing Reading as a vibrant community,” said Berks Alliance Chairman John P. Weidenhammer. “We will continue our commitment to making downtown Reading a very active, energetic and revitalized community that it once was.” Dec 16, 2019 #alvernia #collegetowne

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