EDITORIAL: York College's 'Knowledge Park' should be asset for students, school, employers

York Dispatch
The site of the former Schmidt & Ault paper mill will be the future home of York College's "Knowledge Park."
  • Thanks to a state grant, a “Knowledge Park” is coming to York College.
  • The private-public partnership should help to alleviate the area's "brain drain."
  • The park will be built on land purchased by York College more than 10 years ago.

Knowledge is power. Knowledge is hope. Knowledge is good.

Now, a “Knowledge Park” is coming to York College, and that is great news for everyone involved in the project — the students, the college and local employers.

The private-public partnership should help to alleviate one of York County’s major problems — the brain drain that sees our best-and-brightest young adults fleeing the area for better jobs and business opportunities in urban centers.

As a result, local employers have long complained that it’s hard to find technically-proficient employees to fill highly-skilled jobs, especially in the tight job market that exists today.

The “Knowledge Park” will hopefully become a strong move forward in solving that problem.

New funding for York College 'Knowledge Park' gives startups room to grow

State grant: The park will be built on land purchased by York College more than 10 years ago. The site of the former Schmidt & Ault paper mill will finally find its full purpose, thanks to a $6 million state grant that was awarded in August. That grant will fund the repurposing of three buildings on the site.

The park will offer space for collaborations between the college, industry partners, nonprofits and government entities. Private and public industry partners would be co-located in park to work with faculty and students.

For the companies, it would be a chance to access a highly-educated workforce pipeline. The students, meanwhile, would have co-op, internship and future employment opportunities.

The park would also give access to resources such as tax credits for high-skill jobs in the Keystone Innovation Zone.

It seems like a win for all of the stakeholders in the project.

Moving beyond Brown Center: Currently, York College offers the J.D. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship. Unfortunately, that center is at capacity as a business incubator, said Jeffrey Vermeulen, the college's assistant vice president for external relations.

In the future, the Brown incubator would be first step for clients seeking to work with the college, and the "Knowledge Park" would provide a place to grow beyond the startup stage, Vermeulen said.

The project — which is estimated to cost between $12 million and $14 million — is expected to be under construction within a year, Vermeulen said.

It's completion can't come soon enough.

In addition to providing opportunities for high-tech jobs, the park will also provide an opportunity for local industries to connect with young entrepreneurs who want to stay in the area.

More good news: There’s even more good news. The buildings that will make up the park on the North Campus of the college in York City, are being renovated, not torn down.

The buildings have "good bones," Vermeulen said, so the renovations will largely retain the "historic charm of the structure.”

In addition, a Cyber Security Institute — which would be new to the college — would be located in the park, along with the Graham Innovation Scholars program and a community engagement center.

A much-needed addition: All in all, it sounds like much-needed addition to our community’s economy and educational environment.

If York County is going to thrive in the future, it will need to convince our smartest young people to remain in the area. We need to convince them that this is a great place to live, work and raise a family.

The “Knowledge Park” seems like a strong step in the right direction.