March 13, 2023
Shawnee State University celebrated the Grand Opening of the Kricker Innovation Hub (KIH) – a flagship facility in downtown Portsmouth to inspire entrepreneurship, innovation, and creativity in the southern Ohio region – on Mar. 9. The success of this project is thanks to the visionary support from Jim Kricker, backing from the State of Ohio, and a catalytic investment from the Economic Development Administration (EDA).
“The Kricker Innovation Hub is sitting at the junction of downtown Portsmouth and Shawnee State University,” SSU President Jeff Bauer said. “It’s part of a much larger plan where we see the campus, the university, the community, the business and economic development, all being closely tied together. We can help each other, but more so than that, our futures are all based on our ability to work together to partner and to bring development to southern Ohio.”
Part of a revitalization effort and plan for an Arts & Innovation District connected to SSU, the KIH is a $4 million investment in a 129-year-old building located on Chillicothe Street in Portsmouth, Ohio. The 27,000 square-foot facility began its renovation in 2020 and is the first project of its kind for the university.
“This is just the beginning of the Kricker Innovation Hub,” SSU Vice President for Advancement & Enrollment Management Eric Braun said. “This is the building, but we’re at the beginning of building a network of talent to really open up the doors for opportunity for southern Ohio. Ultimately, we will be leveraging the assets of the community and the university to nurture talent and keep the best and brightest within our region, which really puts us in a unique position within the state of Ohio.”
While the KIH has been under construction for the past few years, the facility’s team continued to provide its signature programming including the Ignite Portsmouth Entrepreneurship Bootcamp and Startup Weekend Portsmouth, as well as serving as a host for the annual Glockner Dare to Dream High School Business Pitch competition.
“During the renovation and COVID-19 pandemic, we kept building our capacity, our programs, and our vision for the Kricker Innovation Hub,” SSU KIH Director David Kilroy said. “Over the next five years, our network of regional partners will continue with us on a journey to reinvest and reshape the region while fulfilling the promise of our mission.”
With support from partnerships including Tri-State Angel Investment Group (TSAIG), TechGrowth Ohio, the Appalachian Investor’s Alliance (AIA), and the ECDI Women’s Business Center of Central Appalachia, the KIH is looking towards how it will build these programs and offer more opportunities for entrepreneurial development in the future.
“Shawnee State, the Kricker Innovation Hub, and the Tri State Angel Investment Group share the common goal of growing the local economy through education and entrepreneurship,” said Mike Thompson, Treasurer of TSAIG. “As Helen Keller said – ‘alone we can do so little, together we can do so much’.”
During the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony of the KIH, SSU announced how each of their current partners would be key in working towards increasing the capital investment ready startups at the new facility.
“This is more than just a grand opening,” said Jane New, Director of TechGrowth Ohio. “This is hope and promise of the entire region. Collaboration is key to innovation, and TechGrowth is excited to be a part of this forward-looking partnership with SSU and Kricker Innovation Hub to foster growth and progress in Southeastern Ohio.”
Open to the campus community as well as the surrounding region, the KIH’s resources are available to help develop business ideas while providing connections with experts and mentors throughout the region.
"The Appalachian Investors Alliance is thrilled to continue our meaningful collaboration with SSU and the Kricker Innovation Hub,” said Jeremy Turner, Business Development Officer and Entrepreneurship Education Project Manager at AIA. “AIA recognizes the Hub and its value in enriching the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
With the recent announcement of additional funding from the EDA’s highly-competitive Build-to-Scale program, the KIH is poised to create a Digital & Immersive Technology Accelerator that will leverage key university strengths, anchor the downtown Arts & Innovation District, and inspire the next generation of innovators, creators, and entrepreneurs in Portsmouth, Ohio.
To learn more about the Kricker Innovation Hub at Shawnee State University, visit ssuinnovation.com.