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February 18, 2020

Community backs SVSU business college expansion, providing $15.6M for fundraising campaign

The business community demonstrated its strong commitment to investing in the Great Lakes Bay Region’s future during a $15.6 million fundraising campaign supporting a building expansion expected to benefit generations of Saginaw Valley State University business students and grow regional businesses.
 
SVSU will host a dedication ceremony Monday, Feb. 24 for the $25.4 million, 38,500-square-foot addition to SVSU’s Scott L. Carmona College of Business.
 
The facility soon will be utilized by students and local business partners alike, providing them access to state-of-the-art facilities and technology fit for Fortune 500 companies. The investment in the future offered by those resources inspired donations — from alumni, friends of the university, local foundations and the business community — for SVSU’s “First for Business” campaign, helping the SVSU Foundation exceed its $15 million fundraising goal by $600,000. In total, 27 gifts topped $100,000.
 
“SVSU prides itself on serving as a resource for the region, and businesses are counting on us to develop both a deep talent pool of professionals as well as programs that can power those companies to success,” said Don Bachand, SVSU president.
 
“The overwhelmingly positive response from our business community and donors shows their faith in SVSU’s ability to deliver these resources. Our SVSU family is grateful for that faith, and we are excited to strengthen our partnerships with this new resource.”
 
The campaign’s largest gift was offered by the Scott Carmona family. Carmona, an SVSU alumnus and owner of Bay City-based Sunrise National Distributors, Inc., said the donation was a decision made by his family, including his wife, Nancy, and their two sons, Eric and Ryan.
 
“We are helping students achieve what they can achieve,” Scott Carmona said. “If they can achieve that with scholarships or a better facility or with more professors — and we are in a position to help them do that — then we are going to do that. If I can do my part to help, that’s what I’m going to do.”
 
Among the other business leaders who contributed to the campaign was Dick Garber, president of Garber Automotive Group. Garber said his contribution was inspired in part by the community-minded values that define SVSU business students.
 
“They come out with the understanding of the importance of people in industry today, and how important character is, which is a fundamental value of the university that coincides and complements what Garber is all about,” he said.
 
“They are a big part of the future of our business. To have our local university expand their business school: that is going to be attractive to local businesses and attractive to businesses outside the area. We help the university, we help our community, we help ourselves.”
 
Kimberly Norris, vice president of administration at Saginaw-based Glastender, Inc., served as co-chair of SVSU’s “First for Business” campaign as well as chair of the SVSU Foundation Board of Directors.
 
“We have strong leadership in the Great Lakes Bay Region who pull together to support what is best for our community,” said Norris, a two-time graduate of the university.
 
“SVSU has established a strong relationship with businesses in our community by demonstrating the desire to partner with us — whether it be to provide qualified graduates for our job openings or serving as a resource to us through programs like the Stevens Center for Family Business. It is clear that SVSU has made a commitment to us, and in return, business leaders gladly supported the Scott L. Carmona College of Business expansion project.”
 
Along with the fundraising campaign, the building addition was supported by $9.8 million in funding from the State of Michigan.
 
The expansion will create additional space to house the academic college’s classrooms, offices and business programs. The new space will include state-of-the-art technology such as analytics labs and Bloomberg Trading terminals, which tracks stock data in real time.
 
Planners say the upgrades will provide students with technology used by Fortune 500 companies, deepen connections between the business community and the talent pool developed at the university, along with establishing a business degree from SVSU as an industry gold standard.
 
“The success of this campaign was an incredible team effort by our Foundation board and volunteers,” said Andy Bethune, executive director of the SVSU Foundation.
 
“Our special thanks to campaign co-chairs Morrie Stevens Sr., Bill Zehnder and Kim Norris for their leadership. We could not have done this without them.”