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Gaining S.T.E.A.M.

Arts and Technology Incubator Breaks Ground in Downtown Albany

ALBANY, N.Y. (July 5, 2018) – The Central Avenue Business Improvement District broke ground last week on The S.T.E.A.M Garden, an incubator center focusing on science, technology, engineering, arts and math.

A ceremony took place at 279 Central Ave. in downtown Albany, N.Y. on June 27.

The $1.7 million project will be completed and open by the end of the year, though renovations of the building, including reconstruction of the building’s historic windows, will continue into 2019, according to Anthony Capece, executive director of the Central Avenue Business Improvement District.

Capece said the S.T.E.A.M Garden will partner with Innovate 518, the Capital Region’s Innovation Hot Spot and NYSTAR initiative managed by the University.

“The University has been integral in helping us redevelop the community,” Capece said. “Their partnership with us shows their commitment to this city and to the growth of technology and small businesses in the area.”

Participating in the groundbreaking were Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, assemblymember John McDonald and representatives from the NYS Empire State Development (ESD).

Economic Development Downtown

The Central Avenue Business Improvement District bought the STEAM Garden building, the former St. Patrick’s Catholic school, in 2011, according to Capece. However, he said it was the University’s decision in 2016 to convert the Schuyler Building on Western Avenue into the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences that galvanized the effort to renovate and rebuild.

“We were inspired to find more ways to partner with the University and to make the STEAM Garden a corridor that connects Central Avenue to the University,” Capece said. “Bringing science, technology and the arts right into the heart of this multicultural district will enhance what’s already happening here with small businesses.

He said the center will house companies involved in START-UP NY, a program that seeks to help new and expanding businesses through tax-incentives and innovative academic partnerships, as well as focus on providing opportunities for minority and women-owned businesses.

University President Havidán Rodríguez said the nexus between The Emerging Technology and Entrepreneurship Complex (ETEC), a $180 million project under construction at the Harriman State Office Campus, in addition to the Schuyler Building’s conversion, will further connect the creative economy, the academic community and the high-tech industry across the Capital Region.

“Initiatives focusing on innovation that integrate STEM disciplines and the arts are critically important for us," Rodríguez said. “Entrepreneurs who will work in [the STEAM Garden] will be able to engage with our faculty and our students, and will have access to services, mentorship and coaching to help them on a path to commercialization.”

Havidán serves as co-chair of the Capital Region Regional Economic Development Council (CREDC), which provided grant funding for the project through the ESD and the New York Main Street program of New York State Homes and Community Renewal.

The STEAM Garden has also received funding from the Capitalize Albany Corporation and National Grid, as well as from a matching grant as part of the City of Albany’s Façade Improvement Program, according to Capece.

                                                                                               Photos by Patrick Dodson.


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