An Innovative Concept

Published 2:07 pm Thursday, January 2, 2014

FARMVILLE — With a few snips of the ribbon, it became official.

The public-private partnership was done.

“A ribbon cutting here… just underscores the important intertwined prospects of Longwood and Farmville,” offered Longwood University President W. Taylor Reveley IV at the special ceremony in November. “And it’s delightful to have this great presence here in downtown Farmville and, likewise, delightful to be cutting the ribbon on a great public-private partnership, too. And this is instrumentally due to the great work of the Longwood Real Estate Foundation.”

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The four-story shining brick structure on Farmville’s West Third Street built through the efforts of Walk To Campus, is the new home for Longwood University’s Speech, Hearing and Learning Services, Office of Community and Economic Development and the University’s Real Estate Foundation as well as apartments for students. The former site of the Newman Tire Company is still rolling in service.

Longwood Real Estate Foundation President Otis Brown offered that it is a “very unique building which gives us an opportunity to do some really unique things in the community, blending together the academics here in this facility, student life and also service to the community. And, what I like about it is its position is right in the community. It is close to the main academic campus and yet, it has good access as far as the community is concerned.”

It also, Brown pointed out, represents a partnership with the Foundation and the Private sector, Walk2Campus.

“…We have an environment where we are accessible to the community and where Longwood is truly open for business,” noted Director of Economic Development Sheri McGuire.

Longwood’s Small Business Development Center, one of the first in the state, has been charged with leveraging university resources in providing consulting and research to small business owners. The center, McGuire offered, has served thousands of business owners through the years with business planning and research and given hundreds of students a chance to work alongside small business owners not only to help them achieve their goals, but to also learn from the business owners.

“For many, it’s a life-changing look at the traits and competencies needed to be successful as an entrepreneur,” she said.

The Small Business Development Center program is in partnership with their local community.

For every dollar invested in the Small Business Development program, clients return $2.49 through capital investment, sales growth and new jobs created, McGuire cited.

“We started out in the little tiny rented space trying to serve the needs of persons with communication disorders in this community,” commented Dr. Lissa Power-deFur, Longwood’s Director of Speech, Hearing and Learning Services, “to try the serve the needs of children with disabilities from zero to three and to start providing tutoring services. And, with this facility, we are truly able to meet our dream.”

She detailed that they have the infant toddler connection of the heartland at the new facility, a program that serves about 200 children each year up to age three.

“I had the pleasure of working with a family when their child, who was deaf in both ears, was fitted with cochlear implants and watched the excitement in the family as their child began to hear and I coached them in how they could support that hearing,” she said. “And that’s the concept behind early intervention. It’s not that we go in and make changes in the child. We go in and support the family. The family is there with the children 24/7. We give them the skills so that they can support their children’s development.”

Dr. Power-deFur also detailed that they have a tutoring program, that education students get practicum experience there and in the local school district, they provide services to children and adults through geriatric years in speech and language, have a voice swallow lab where they can support adults with voice problems and swallowing issues, and have worked with youngsters that have stuttering issues.

“So we are delighted with this new space,” Power-deFur said. “We have places where people can park. We have places where they can get to us without dealing with an elevator that might be breaking or with a little bit of water coming through the roof. We have enough capacity to serve, basically, all comers.”

Matt King, president of Walk2Campus, noted the company has been going for 10 years this spring in Farmville.

“This is the ten year marker and I don’t think in my wildest dreams when we were haggling over that triplex 150 yards up that way that…it would ultimately evolve to this,” he said. However, I will say…from day one we’ve always said that Walk2Campus serves four customers and we’ve been very clear…The customers are the students—very fortunate that they rent our apartments—their parents who buy in as well—literally buy in—the local university and then the Town, the local municipality. And, in this case I’d really like to thank the Town of Farmville.”

He offered that this is “a very straight-forward place to do business and a very straight-forward place to develop.”