SEMINOLE — The Greater Seminole Area Chamber of Commerce and St. Petersburg College hosted a ribbon-cutting and grand opening ceremony for the new civic building at SPC’s Seminole campus Sept. 10.
The joint-use building, a partnership between the chamber and the college, will serve as a permanent home for the chamber and offer space to the city’s civic organizations and community groups. It will also be utilized by the college for various uses, including classroom space.
“I look forward to witnessing the civic engagement that is slated to occur with local nonprofit organizations and clubs, the county, the city and our SPC Titans, and equally I look forward to the chamber residing right here on the Seminole campus of St. Petersburg College,” said Dr. Tonjua Williams, SPC president. “This is an awesome example of the community coming together with the college and our citizens.”
The prefabricated building was built offsite and was installed at the SPC campus in August.
The project was primarily funded by a $500,000 grant from the Edward J. and Vivian E. Lurie Charitable Foundation.
Dr. Ed Lurie initially intended for the city of Seminole to take the lead on the project, presenting the donation and his vision for the building to then-City Manager Frank Edmunds five years ago, he said. When plans to construct the building at Waterfront Park “didn’t work out,” SPC stepped up as a new partner for the project, Lurie said. “Thank God the college was willing and able to provide the location for this building. I think it’s every bit as good, if not better.”
He added, “Hopefully this building will provide the community with a facility that will be well-used by all the people.”
Jim Olliver, SPC-Seminole’s founding provost, and the current chamber board chair and president, called the building’s grand opening “a great day in the history of Seminole.”
“Where else would this scenario play out? A local resident and his family, having a long career and love for their community, offer half a million dollars to construct a building. That in and of itself is not that unusual. It’s the vision, it’s the purpose that’s unique,” he said. “The building was to be home for the community’s civic clubs, the area chamber of commerce and a welcome center for the entire area, both the city and the county.”
He also commended the Seminole community for embracing Lurie’s vision and “stepp(ing) up” when additional funds were needed to complete the project. More than $100,000 was raised.
“It’s not been an easy project, but nothing this special ever is,” Olliver said.