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Press Release for Monday, January 14, 2019

UNF Holds Grand Opening for New Center for Entrepreneurship in Downtown Jacksonville Thanks to Million Dollar Gift

Media Contact: Amanda Dawson, PR Specialist

Department of Public Relations

(904) 620-2192


The University of North Florida will hold the grand opening of the Center for Entrepreneurship in downtown Jacksonville, l ocated in the renovated historic Barnett National Bank Building on Adams Street. The ceremony will take place February 4, 2019. The Center was made possible by a generous gift of $1 million from Luther and Blanche Coggin.   


“The Coggins have had an enormous impact on the future business leaders in Northeast Florida and beyond with their long history of investing in higher education,” said Dr. David M. Szymanski, president of UNF. “We are eternally grateful to Luther and Blanche for their efforts to ensure student success.”


The Center will serve as a hub for creativity, business development and learning. UNF will occupy two floors of the building, one for classrooms and the other for business development. Classes started the week of January 7 for graduate students within the Coggin College of Business’s Master of Science in Management program; MBA program classes are anticipated to begin in May.  


The Center will be a living-learning lab, providing students with opportunities to assist entrepreneurs with market and financial analyses, statement creation, planning and more. The ultimate objective is to propel local business growth by building a strong and sustainable entrepreneurial climate for the success of UNF students and the community.


The Center will function as a place where entrepreneurs can pitch their ideas to a panel of experts in hopes of being selected to receive office space and support to work through their plans. Support will be provided by UNF faculty and students as well as through involvement of community members.


The Northeast Florida Small Business Development Center and Small Business Administration will also have a presence to connect aspiring business owners with additional resources and advice.


The University appointed alumna Karen Bowling as the new director of the Center for Entrepreneurship.


“Karen is a strong asset to our University,” said Dr. Mark Dawkins, Coggin College of Business dean. “I’m confident that her extensive management experience will bring the Center great success.”


Bowling, a Riverside resident, is a highly accomplished executive with more than 30 years of success in both public and private companies within the healthcare, government and technology industries.


Prior to joining UNF, Bowling served as president of Thrive Consulting, LLC. in Jacksonville where she consulted in the healthcare and government sectors. She previously served as chief administrative officer for the city of Jacksonville, the CEO of 34 Solantic Urgent Care Clinics and in various communication roles at healthcare firms.


She currently serves as chair of the Florida State College of Jacksonville Board of Trustees as well as a member of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. Among numerous other accolades, she has been recognized by the Jacksonville Business Journal in 2009 as “Ultimate CEO, Medium-Sized Company,” in 2008 as “Business Mentor” and in 2006 as “Women of Influence.”


Bowling received a Bachelor of Arts in Literature from UNF.


Media outlets are invited to cover the grand opening ceremony, which will take place 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 4, in the renovated historic Barnett National Bank Building, 112 W. Adams St., Jacksonville. 


UNF, a nationally ranked university located on an environmentally beautiful campus, offers students who are dedicated to enriching the lives of others the opportunity to build their own futures through a well-rounded education.