WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — A $2.5 million revitalization project has been approved for downtown Watertown.

On December 1, Jefferson Community College announced that its Board of Trustees approved a resolution to advance a new plan for the Downtown Revitalization Initiative funds awarded to the College back in 2018. Funding was awarded by New York State and totals $2.5 million.

According to JCC representatives, the college will collaborate with Neighbors of Watertown to restore the building located at 124-136 Franklin Street. After the restoration is completed, funding will be used to develop a facility dedicated to entrepreneurship education and training.

JCC stated that the goal of this project is to create an education hub for entrepreneurs and small businesses in the area. In 2016, small businesses made up over 50% of the North Country payroll.

“We are excited to offer our small business clients services from a purposefully designed space that will enable innovative programming and spark collaborative endeavors region-wide,” Watertown Small Business Development Center Regional Director Elizabeth Lonergan said.

The new facility has plans to house Waterotwn’s Small Business Development Center. The space will also include flexible meeting facilities to host workshops classes and education events.

However, this funding was previously offered to Jefferson Community College, but the College declined it in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. JCC stated that it has been working closely with the state.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, the College has sought a larger role in the recovery efforts of this region,” JCC President Dr. Ty A. Stone said in a press release. “I believe this project will serve that purpose. We appreciate the dedication of New York State and their confidence in Jefferson’s ability to develop a solid plan for the funding. We are additionally grateful for the commitment of Neighbors of Watertown and the hard work put forth by our staff to find a way to bring this project to life for the City of Watertown and the small businesses in Jefferson County.” 

Renovation of the building on Franklin Street in downtown Watertown is expected to begin in 2022. The facility has a tentative opening date of early 2023.