New Construction

St. Petersburg College Opens New Workforce Innovation Hub

After five years of planning, St. Petersburg College (SPC) in Florida is now welcoming visitors to its new Chris Sprowls Workforce Innovation Hub on the Tarpon Springs campus. The 10,000-square-foot facility was dedicated in February 2024, and is devoted to manufacturing, creativity, and collaboration among students, educators, and business leaders.

The facility was named after Chris Sprowls, former Florida House of Representatives Speaker, who had a vision of "cultivating a skilled workforce by fostering skill development, encouraging collaboration, and contributing to the growth of local manufacturing businesses," the college said in a release.

The Innovation Hub was built inside the 40,000-square-foot Michael and Evelyn Bilirakis College of Education building. Project costs came in at about $8.2 million, and have been funded by SPC operational and capital outlay funds, said SPC sources in an e-mail.

The facility comprises three separate areas that can be rented:

  • An entrepreneurial space with workspaces, conference rooms, co-working areas, and Zoom room for virtual connections;
  • A makerspace with technology to develop, test, and teach about new products; and
  • An event space for large conferences and presentations, which includes a culinary catering and teaching area.

Jackie Skryd, SPC's vice president of workforce development and corporate partnerships, called the hub "a place where students can gain practical skills and real-world experience, ensuring job readiness," adding that it is also "a place where students, businesses, the college, and the community can connect, network, develop ideas, and collaborate."

Sprowls, speaking at the dedication in February, said he was "incredibly humbled" that the facility was named in his honor.

"We are so blessed to live in this community," he said. "We have amazing leaders who talked about a vision of what this space could be and, whatever small vision I had, they have far exceeded those expectations."

Visit this page to learn more about the innovation hub's research, partnership, and training opportunities.

View the February 2024 release for more information about the hub and a short video from the dedication event.

About the Author

Kate Lucariello is a former newspaper editor, EAST Lab high school teacher and college English teacher.