ADA, OK -- There was a groundbreaking ceremony at the East Central University campus Tuesday afternoon.
Hundreds gathered around an empty lot on campus to hear several well-known community members announce that construction of ECU's School of Business and Convention Center will soon be underway. Everyone there also found there is a lot more meaning behind this project that it is more than just a building.
It may only be a pile of dirt in a vacant lot now, but over time the space will evolve into the Harland C. Stonecipher School of Business. ECU President John Hargrave says the new facility will provide the opportunity to bring in more people and further education with the schools new learning center.
"Our students will learn new ways of thinking, innovative ways of thinking, and creative ways of thinking for the global environment we find ourselves in. We hope to educate students to be competitive in the global business world we're in," Hargrave said.
Hargrave says the building will be a "footprint in the art and entertainment district" as it will help create a more pedestrian friendly area and add to the Ada skyline. It will also house a convention center with a safe room that will be able to protect more than 1,000 people from dangerous weather.
ECU Business Student Bailey Walker says this is his last year as a student, but seeing this long-anticipated project come to life makes his departure bitter sweet.
"We spoke about it many times and to see that come to fruition today is a great great great event not only for the School of Business, but for the community of Ada at large," Walker said.
The 62,000 square foot building will cost up to $12 million dollars, and ECU leaders say without donations from people like the Stoneciphers and the Chickasaw Nation the project may have never gotten off the drawing board. Hargrave says it is wonderful to see the plan finally begin to unfold.
"This is such an honor on behalf of everybody at East Central University. I just want to say thank to to everybody who worked so hard to make this possible," Hargrave said.
Hargrave says they expect the building to be finished in about two years, but says if mother nature permits the project may be completed even earlier.