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Business Observer Monday, Aug. 23, 2021 3 months ago

School for entrepreneurs — finally — gets a place to call home

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Lucas Hall at Florida Gulf Coast University's Daveler & Kauanui School of Entrepreneurship opened Aug. 11

In what school officials are calling a watershed moment for students, staff and faculty, Florida Gulf Coast University recently opened Lucas Hall — home to the Daveler & Kauanui School of Entrepreneurship.

Tiffany Shadden/Florida Gulf Coast University. Sandra Kauanui, middle, and FGCU President Mike Martin, right, celebrate the opening of Lucas Hall as its namesake, David Lucas, far left, looks on.

Starting in late 2018, before it was elevated to a school within the university, the entrepreneurship program operated from FGCU’s off-campus Emergent Technologies Institute, according to a statement. The opening of Lucas Hall, a $10.4 million privately funded project, enables entrepreneurship students to take all of their classes on the main campus for the first time. “It’s very meaningful because we’re back home,” the school’s founding director, Sandra Kauanui, says in the statement.

The 27,000-square-foot, three-story complex officially opened Aug. 11. Faculty, students, alumni, donors and community members gathered for an event to commemorate the announcement.

In addition to office space and classrooms, the facility includes the FineMark National Bank & Trust Incubator, with shared workspaces, private conference rooms for mentors to meet with students, computers, a camera and audio recording equipment, and product and app development software. It also has direct access to expert faculty, staff and community startup coaches. Aimed at helping students create products for their businesses, the Rist Family Foundation Maker Space, meanwhile, contains 3D printers, a laser cutter and virtual reality development kits.

The complex is named for David Lucas, a real estate developer and founding member of the FGCU Board of Trustees, who gave the university a $4 million challenge — kick-starting the campaign that fully funded the building through philanthropy. “Entrepreneurship is what drives this country,” Lucas told FGCU360.com in 2020. “It creates jobs. Small companies make a big difference.”

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