Muskegon Community College to receive former Masonic Temple

Posted at 10:59 AM, Jun 03, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-03 17:44:21-04

MUSKEGON, Mich. -  Muskegon Community College received the largest single donation in school history Wednesday. The gift is set to increase the size of the colleges downtown presence by 50 percent, and is expected to make Muskegon a stronger, more vibrant city.

Muskegon Community College announced a $13 million investment, along with a new future for MCC.  Come fall of 2017, a building that is currently used as a bus station will be home to MCC’s Entrepreneurial Studies Program.

In just two years, MCC will transform the old Masonic Temple on West Clay Ave. from a bus station to the Rooks Sarnicola Center for Entrepreneurial Studies.

Local entrepreneur, Nick Sarnicola, says he's always had a dream to have a building named after him for something he did or gave to the community.

That dream is now a reality. Sarnicola, co-founder of Visalus, and his wife Ashley, gave Muskegon Community College a $200,000 endowment in an effort to support MCC students and help transform their business ideas to reality.

“I don't think it's really set in what we've done yet. I think once we see some awards being given out to some 20-year olds that are starting a new business, that's when it'll set in,” Nick said.

“What's exciting to me is that MCC has another way to attract students to its school,” said local developer, Jonathan Rooks.

Jonathan knew the Masonic Temple was a perfect location for new, aspiring entrepreneurs to grow and learn due to its size and location. He’s donating the building to MCC.

“That's a 50,000 foot building. This is a 25,000 sq. ft. building, so this single gift is increasing the size of the downtown campus by 50%. It was such an easy decision because it was right next door,” Rooks said.

Next door to the former Muskegon Chronicle, the space will soon provide much-needed entrepreneurial training.

“I hope that our gift impacts thousands and thousands of lives and their families,” Ashley Sarnicola said.

In addition, they hope to give faculty like Dave Stradel, further opportunity to teach students to succeed.

“It's extremely exciting. It gives us an opportunity to have a facility dedicated to entrepreneurial studies and it also gives us money to help young students who have decided to start a business, but have trouble finding start up capital. This scholarship is a wonderful opportunity,” said Dave Stradel, the Chair of MCC’s business department.

MCC currently offers an entrepreneurial associate in applied science degree and other specialized entrepreneurial degrees in several areas. Currently, around 50 students are enrolled, but the college hopes to expand with more students and faculty come fall of 2017.