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Phase II Jutila Center Renovations Begin

July 6, 2009

Jutila CenterHANCOCK, MI - Finlandia University President Philip Johnson is pleased to announce that Phase II renovations to Finlandia's Jutila Center for Global Design and Business began June 1.

"Finlandia recognizes the importance of contributing to the economic development of the western Upper Peninsula," Johnson says. "It is rewarding to contribute to a stronger business community, creating more job opportunities for our graduates and all Copper Country citizens."

The second round of improvements to the former Portage View Hospital continues a multi-phase project funded by an Economic Development Authority grant awarded in 2005. Including the current $1.58 million project, a total of $4.7 million has been invested to date in renovations to the Jutila Center, including a $700,000 investment from the Smart Zone. A recent 40% Finlandia matching gift paved the way for Phase II work.

"As a business incubator the Jutila Center was eligible for EDA grants that encourage job creation," explains Bonnie Holland, director of the Jutila Center. "Now that the first three floors are fully occupied, and we continue to receive applications to lease office suites, additional space has become justified."

Bonnie Holland"The Western Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Region (WUPPDR) helped us facilitate both phases of the public/private project, and we've also worked closely with UP Engineers and Architects and other local partners to make this happen," says Holland.

"Community support was essential to progress this far with Jutila Center renovations. Community development cannot be accomplished in a vacuum," she adds. "The Chicago regional office of EDA has placed tremendous confidence in this project."

The Jutila Center small business incubator opened in 2005. Currently at 90% capacity, the incubator houses 19 companies employing 37 people. Software development, insurance, art, music, photography, wellness, and a café are among the services offered.

The Smart Zone location on the fourth floor is home to 11 technology-focused businesses.

A distinction of the Jutila Center business incubator is the opportunity for collaboration between Finlandia's art and design students and Jutila Center and Smart Zone businesses, as well as other Keweenaw-area businesses.

Offering student design services to enhance business innovation is a concept Finlandia University has adapted from a learning model practiced at the Kuopio Academy of Design, Kuopio, Finland.

Jutila Center Construction"This component of the EDA/Finlandia University partnership complements and adds value for Jutila Center and Smart Zone tenants," says Holland. "In 2007 the combined value of student-provided design services, if purchased, would have exceeded $60,000."

Product and graphic design, market research, rapid prototyping, marketing and branding campaigns, and ergonomic analysis are a few of the projects undertaken by Finlandia students.

Jutila Center investment in infrastructure, technology, equipment, and business services create an environment that adds value for incubator tenants.

Ken Dillinger, president of U.P. Engineers and Architects, believes the success of the Jutila Center incubator illustrates the creativity of the community. He adds that he sees a lot of communication between the engineers of the Smart Zone technology companies and the Finlandia students, and that the overlap in communication strengthens ties with the Keweenaw community and between Finlandia and Michigan Technological University.

"I think we have a lot of entrepreneurs in the community," says Dillinger. "Business incubators are a way to keep capital investment low and give businesses the opportunity to build a client base, develop assets, and eventually move on and make room for others."

UPEA translated Finlandia's Jutila Center program statements into cost estimates and a schematic design. Dillinger says the plans anticipate future needs, including connecting suites to allow for individual business expansion and opening up the corridors to create display space.

Improvements to both the exterior and interior of the nine-story building are targeted for completion this fall. This includes replacement of the roof and windows on floors five to nine and upgrades to the plumbing, electrical, mechanical, and fire suppression systems. A second boiler and a second elevator will also be added.

"The building is structurally sound so our approach is to preserve as much of the original structure as possible, replacing only those systems that need updating" says Holland.

Phase II also includes complete renovation of floors six and seven, each 6,000 sq. ft., which will add up to 25 additional business incubator suites. Floors eight and nine are open for development or sale or lease. The fifth floor of the Jutila Center is reserved for additional university classrooms and studios.

Following a competitive public bidding process, Gundlach Champion of Houghton, Mich., was chosen general contractor for the Phase II renovation project. John Sturos, Gundlach engineer and estimator, is the project's manager.

Sturos says that asbestos and lead paint removal on floors six and seven has been completed and over the next several weeks crews will work on demolition of old fixtures in preparation for the construction of new walls.

Fourteen subcontractors, each of them employing two to four workers, are working with Gundlach Champion on Jutila Center renovations, notes Sturos. Subcontractor specialties include roofing, windows, flooring and carpet, acoustical ceilings, fire suppression, electric and mechanical, signage, and elevator upgrades. All but one of the subcontractors are based in the Upper Peninsula, most of them from western and central U.P.

As the regional liaison to the EDA, the Western Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Region, along with several other regional economic development agencies, has been assisting the City of Hancock and Finlandia with Jutila Center renovations since Finlandia purchased the former hospital in 2001.

WUPPDR represents the western U.P. counties of Baraga, Gogebic, Houghton, Iron, Keweenaw, and Ontonagon in a collaborative effort to foster economic development. It was established by a State of Michigan Public Act in 1968 and is one of 14 economic development districts in Michigan. It is a member-based organization representing various forms of municipalities, including the City of Hancock.

"Regionalism is the key to what we do," notes Kim Stoker, executive director of WUPPDR. "What's good for us is good for our neighbors. Given today's limited resources, we all have to collaborate in order to survive."

As all requests for EDA grants must be proposed by municipalities, the City of Hancock and WUPPDR worked closely with Finlandia to propose the Jutila Center renovations via a Community Economic Development Strategy. Stoker notes that the EDA grant for the first phase of Jutila Center renovations was approved with much credit due to Hancock city manager Glenn Anderson and John Peck, retired economic development representative for the EDA.

The second and current phase of Jutila Center was begun by Joanne MacInnes, former director of the Jutila Center. Stoker says her recognition that the "envelope" of the former hospital needed improvement for the overall success of the effort was key to what has been accomplished.

"It is very unusual that the EDA will come in and do a second phase on a project," says Stoker. "Their attitude is, if we can't make it work the first time, why would we fund it again? But Joanne sat down with the EDA and convinced them that that they needed to help with the envelope of the building."

Stoker adds that it took a lot of hard work by a lot of people to help the Jutila Center succeed, including John Sullivan and Ken Dillinger of UP Engineering, the cooperation of MTEC and the Smart Zone, and Bonnie Holland, who stepped in to bring all the pieces together.

Five companies have pre-leased sixth and seventh floor Jutila Center suites, Holland says. Two of them are current tenants moving into larger offices; three are new companies moving to the area.

Holland invites businesses in all phases of expansion to contact her. She says the open floor plan on these floors make them suitable for flexible office space.

"These are exceptional office suites with a premium view of the Portage Waterway," Holland adds. "We are not only looking for new start-up companies, but for companies in expansion mode, firms that are investing in new equipment and adding personnel, and businesses that are relocating to the western U.P."

For additional information about the Finlandia University Jutila Center and EDA Phase II renovations, please contact Bonnie Holland, director of the Jutila Center, at 906-487-7344 or bonnie.holland@finlandia.edu.

 

Photo cutlines (if you require higher resolution photos, please e-mail karen.johnson@finlandia.edu):

1. Bonnie Holland, director of the Finlandia University Jutila Center and the Center for Global Design and Business

2. The Finlandia University Jutila Center

3. Construction equipment in front of the Finlandia University Jutila Center