A groundbreaking ceremony held Friday on the campus of the University of Alabama at Birmingham marked the beginning of construction for a three-story building to house the UAB Collat School of Business and the Bill L. Harbert Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Located along University Avenue between 12th Street and 13th Street on the city’s south side, the facility will include technologically advanced classrooms, labs, lecture halls, breakout rooms and other amenities that school officials say will modernize both what students learn and the way they learn it. The 110,000-square-foot building is expected to be completed by fall 2018. UAB administrators, faculty, staff members and students, along with community leaders and representatives from local businesses including Regions Bank, gathered at the site to commemorate the milestone. Twenty-one dignitaries donned hardhats and marked the occasion by tossing shovelfuls of sands.
Dr. Eric P. Jack, PhD, dean of the UAB Collat School of Business and one of several speakers who touted the importance of this development, said the new facility will be transformational. “We’re excited today,” Jack said. “We believe that this state-of-the-art facility will truly allow us to transform what we do at UAB. This new building, where business students can meet with others from across campus to collaborate, will enhance students’ ability to participate in hands-on work on intellectual property owned by the university, to write business plans, to start companies. It’s a wonderful, bold idea that we can use to help contribute to creating an innovative Birmingham community.” He also acknowledged the key role partner businesses play in moving the university and the community forward. Partners such as Regions Bank, a longtime UAB supporter and an ongoing sponsor of efforts to provide financial education programming for UAB students and Birmingham-area residents, are vital to the school’s success, he said. “Thanks to our relationship with Regions Bank, including our Regions Institute for Financial Education, we’ve been able to address a problem that plagues not only our students but people in K-12 schools and families too,” Dr. Jack said. “We are reaching out and [with this building] we will have the space to be able to do that in partnership with Regions.” Several Regions associates attended the groundbreaking, including John Owen, head of the Regional Banking Group, who joined the ceremonial shovel brigade. “With this facility and our partnership with UAB, we can have a positive impact on the next generation,” Owen said. “More information and access leads to better financial decisions that benefit the entire community.”