News

SCC and OPO Startups partnership underway

Published: 02/07/2017

A partnership is underway with St. Charles Community College and OPO Startups, giving SCC students and alumni free access to the co-working center from noon-8 p.m. on Wednesdays.

“Our students will play a key role in the growth and success of the local economy for years to come,” said Barbara Kavalier, Ph.D., SCC president. “Giving them networking opportunities and work space access like this is invaluable to both the students and the community.”

SCC’s space was dedicated in OPO, whose mission is to promote and grow the regional digital startup community in St. Charles, on Jan. 25. There is a table with SCC signage for students and alumni that provides a work space for startup companies of their own.

17-0125-CPT-OPO-Startup-4-768x400St. Charles Community College’s dedicated space in OPO Startups.

“In the spirit of collaboration and networking, giving our students and alumni the ability to connect with these entrepreneurs and experts in a common space is truly invaluable to our community,” said Lauren Dickens, interim dean of business, science, education, math and computer science.

“The OPO attracts brilliant entrepreneurs. Pairing those minds with our exceptional students at SCC – I am genuinely excited to see the great work that comes from this,” Dickens said.  

Located in the newly renovated Old Post Office (OPO) building in St. Charles, the 10,000-square-foot facility provides regional startups with affordable workspace and access to mentors, potential investors, programming, educational resources and a community of local entrepreneurs.

17-0125-CPT-OPO-Startup-17-768x400Dr. Barbara Kavalier thanks Rex McKanry for all his work establishing a partnership between OPO Startups and St. Charles Community College at the college’s space dedication ceremony on Jan. 25.

OPO currently hosts 52 companies over a five building complex on Main Street, St. Charles. “Our members are focused on tech and design with some business-to-business services,” said Megan McKissen, OPO Startups community manager. “Most are in the startup phase, some are currently scaling and others are existing small businesses.”

Members have access to weekly events where members can collaborate and network. Educational events include OPO Tech Talks, open to the public, and biannual demo days. Outside groups such as LaunchCode and Ice House have presented as well.

“Companies tend to outgrow our facility when the size of their staff outgrows our available offices,” McKissen said. “Notable OPO graduates include Switzer Creative and Liviara, a luxury lingerie company whose underwear was just worn by Beyoncé in her recent pregnancy announcement.”

“Our goal at OPO is to create a tech centric, entrepreneurial atmosphere on Main Street and to serve as a meeting place and facilities within the county and region,” McKissen said.

17-0125-CPT-OPO-Startup-24-768x400Randy Shilling, president and CEO of Boardpaq and founder of OPO Startups, and Dr. Barbara Kavalier, SCC president celebrate the partnership between OPO Startups and St. Charles Community College at the space dedication ceremony on Jan. 25.

The OPO Startups is a joint venture between the Economic Development Center and private investor Randy Shilling. Membership starts at $75 per month for a drop in membership and progresses to co-working offices and suites. For more information, visit opostartups.com or contact Rex McKanry at rmckanry@stchas.edu.

St. Charles Community College is a public, comprehensive two-year community college with associate degrees and certificate programs in the arts, business, sciences and career-technical fields. SCC provides workforce training and community-based personal and professional development as well as cultural, recreational and entertainment opportunities. For more information, visit stchas.edu.

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