The Graham Center for Innovation and Collaboration at Penn State York is breaking ground on campus Wednesday.

The name marks a new home for the Graham Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership Studies — the initiative that will be housed in the building.

The 1 p.m. groundbreaking on Wednesday, April 17, will be on the hillside between the Pullo Family Performing Arts Center and the Main Classroom Building.

The budget for the project — including furniture, fixtures and equipment — is about $5 million, and the work is scheduled to be completed by summer 2020, according to a news release.

The center will be a two-story, 7,945-square-foot building, providing an expanded space that can encompass the growing Graham Fellows program — another name for the initiative — said the school's chancellor, David Christiansen.

It also will allow the center to offer new entrepreneurial leadership programs for every student on campus, he said.

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"Through their studies at The Graham Center, students will participate in real-world applications,"  Madlyn Hanes, vice president for Commonwealth Campuses and executive chancellor, said in a news release.

More than 60 students are currently part of the center, which is focused on career exploration.

Interdisciplinary coursework, mock interviews, workshops in résumé writing, etiquette and dining, networking opportunities with local business and internship experiences are all part of what the center offers, the release states.

Christiansen hopes to expand the fellowship program to 100 students while opening up some of the same learning opportunities to the campus as a whole — including faculty who want to use resources to connect with their classes.

The building's open-concept floor plan will allow flexibility for small student groups, one-on-one mentoring, classes or lectures and large events and presentations. Large glass windows will provide natural light and views overlooking York City.

"That really underscores what this is all about," Christiansen said. "The York community will always be in sight and in mind."

The project was made possible by a generous donation from local business leader and philanthropist Donald Graham.

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Graham founded The Graham Group, a York-based global manufacturing business that includes four independent private equity firms, at age 27 in the basement of a rented farmhouse in Dover, according to a previous news release.

“Don has long been a wonderful advocate for advancing entrepreneurship and innovation at Penn State and across the region,” Penn State President Eric Barron said.

Graham helped found the Graham Center in 2013, and he felt it should have a location fitting of the program itself, Christiansen said.

The scope of the project was originally estimated at 5,000 square feet, but the college received an additional contribution from Graham, who also challenged officials to raise funds in the community. 

That led them to donors John and Maria Polli, the Powder Mill Foundation and the J. Warehime Foundation.

Christiansen said he's looking forward to seeing Graham interacting with students at the new location because he really enjoys hearing their stories, and they appreciate the opportunity to engage with someone of his caliber.

"It is so interesting to see these 19, 20-year-old students exchanging business cards with the Don Grahams of the world," he said.

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