The College of St. Joseph held commencement in Rutland for the final time this past spring, and since then, officials have been looking to transform the campus.

They’ve done a feasibility study to determine what programs would be the most helpful to develop entrepreneurs in the Rutland area and what it would take to bring those programs to campus.

The study is now complete, and it recommends creating the CSJ Center for Excellence & Innovation. It would offer accelerator programs for entrepreneurs and startup companies, as well as training and certificate programs for working professionals.

“Can this work here in this community? And we have ended with a resounding yes,” College of St. Joseph trustee Dr. Jennifer Scott said.

All campus operations are on hiatus until the new center can be brought to life.

“We’re talking about renovating the campus,” Dennis Moynihan of Vermont Innovation Commons said. “We’re talking about building programs from scratch. There’s a lot of work to do, but it’s something that is best practice across the country. Communities large and small are making this work.”

“While College of St. Joseph is driving the innovation hub and will operate the innovation hub, Vermont Works and Vermont Innovation Commons brings the talent and the expertise to help us,” Dr. Scott said.

That expertise includes securing funding.

The 2017 Trump tax cuts created opportunity zones — rural areas with growth potential that private investors have overlooked — and the CSJ campus lies within one of them. Anyone making certain types of investments there will be eligible for substantial tax benefits.

“First of all, there’s investment that can actually help establish the innovation center, but probably even more importantly, that’s investment that young companies can take advantage of as they locate here for their launch and for growing,” Moynihan said.

“We do have 117 acres (of land on the CSJ campus),” Scott said. “Is our innovation hub going to require all 117 acres? Not likely.”

So what will the future be for all of that property? Which parcels will likely be kept, and which ones might be sold? Dr. Scott says they’re still trying to figure that out.

Some of the college’s former staff members would likely be brought back to work as well, but it’s not clear yet how many that might be.

The CSJ feasibility study is just shy of a hundred pages long. If you’d like to read it for yourself, you can click here.