Posted by on July 2, 2021 3:55 am

Categories: Coal Region Newswire Coal Region Newswire 2 Local News

john loyack alvernia university president

Alvernia University President John Loyack announces the launch of Pottsville CollegeTowne at a press conference Thursday inside the former GIANT supermarket in downtown Pottsville.

Officials from Alvernia University alongside Pottsville city officials and business leaders gathered Thursday afternoon to formally announce the launch of Pottsville CollegeTowne.

They all gathered inside the former GIANT grocery store location along Progress Avenue, which Alvernia recently agreed to purchase after it went on the market last year. GIANT closed its doors officially in July 2020.

Renovations on the beleaguered former supermarket are expected to be complete next year and Pottsville CollegeTowne will be opened.

Alvernia says Pottsville CollegeTowne will allow it to offer more classes and degree programs. And it’ll launch a business incubator that’ll help get entrepreneurs beyond the grueling initial stages of development to help get their ideas off the ground.

Earlier this year, Alvernia launched the first CollegeTowne project in its home city of Reading.

Alvernia Formally Launches Pottsville CollegeTowne

On Thursday, Alvernia President John Loyack and other school officials explained a little more about the Pottsville CollegeTowne concept and why the school chose to move from its current location at Cressona Mall and buy the former GIANT.

“It has to start with a building. You can’t be in the city and not be in the city,” he said at a press conference. “We truly are overwhelmed by the support and the participation today. What a wonderful way to start a new relationship and a new partnership.”

Alvernia previously had two locations in Pottsville proper before settling in at the mall. It once occupied a portion of the vacated Thompson Building at the corner of West Market and North Centre streets and then moved into the building where McCann School of Business once operated on the city’s west end.

“Like St. Francis, we are going into the city,” Loyack said. “Pottsville CollegeTowne is a mission-centered idea for us because we are going to the city of Pottsville to spread our mission of transformation, value-based education. Our mission continues here in Pottsville.”

Alvernia Welcomed to Pottsville

The move to downtown Pottsville is being celebrated by political officials and business leaders representing the city.

“This is a day that will literally change lots of people’s lives,” State Sen. Dave Argall (R-29) said during his remarks on Thursday. “There’s no doubt, this is good news for the entire county.”

Indeed, the decision for Alvernia to purchase the vacated supermarket in downtown Pottsville is a bit of a coup for the city. It recently announced that it was targeting the North Centre St. area beyond City Hall for its latest economic revitalization zone. And it’s a part of the city desperately in need of some attention.

Plus, a new tenant/owner like Alvernia is certainly a more welcome addition there than the now-dashed prospect of Schuylkill County government purchasing the building to expand its presence downtown.

jim muldowney pottsville mayor

“We welcome Alvernia with open arms,” Pottsville Mayor Jim Muldowney said Thursday. “The City of Pottsville is going through a revitalization. The last 8 years, things are moving forward. COVID did not delay us. We kept moving forward. Today is one of the greatest things for our revitalization.”

“These are literally new seeds being planted in the city of Pottsville,” Schuylkill Chamber of Commerce President Bob Carl said. “There has never been a more exciting time in the last several decades. Revitalization is alive and well. On behalf of the Schuylkill Chamber of Commerce, we congratulate you and pledge our continued support and partnership.”

Carl said he was part of the initial exploratory meetings on Alvernia seeking a location in downtown Pottsville and was joined at those meetings by Pottsville Area Development Corp. Executive Director Savas Logothetides.

Logothetides said Alvernia’s announcement that it’s moving to downtown Pottsville is “possibly the biggest component of progress” for the city’s Continued Progress initiative.

“Alvernia picked Pottsville,” he said. “We couldn’t be happier that they did. They see the same vision for our community that we see. As the county seat and county leader in business and tourism, today marks the start of Pottsville’s ability to be a leader in post-secondary education.”

New Course Offerings

Alvernia already offers 13 Bachelor’s degree and 5 Graduate degree programs at its location in Cressona Mall. But there’s not enough space to expand.

“We’ve outgrown the space needed to serve our students,” Cynthia Mensch, director of Alvernia’s local campus said Thursday. “The move to downtown will create a vibrant learning and entertainment environment. Students will have the ability to attend lectures, study, dine, relax, and spend time with one another and our faculty and our partners here in downtown Pottsville.

Mensch says Alvernia will be offering 20 credit certificate programs, 15 Bacelor’s, and 5 Graduate degree programs.

She outlined some of the credit certificate programs being offered and said they’re designed to meet the needs of Pottsville’s current business community:

  • Healthcare
  • Project management
  • Logistics
  • Cyber security
  • Ethics
  • Criminal justice
  • Human services
  • English as a Second Language (ESL)

“Conversations have been happening daily,” Mensch said, “on new opportunities for us to meet needs of the Pottsville community. Pottsville CollegeTowne is all about the partnerships we already have and those that we’ll continue to build here.

Alvernia previously announced a partnership with the Joseph F. McCloskey School of Nursing to expand degree offerings to students there.

Business Incubator

The idea of the business incubator attached to the CollegeTowne concept aims to surround budding entrepreneurs with already established and successful entrepreneurs and investors. Loyack mention the Lehigh Valley Angel Network as one specific group of “angel investors” who are willing to partner with Alvernia and Pottsville CollegeTowne to potentially find incubator students funding to get their business ideas up and running.

Loyack also mentioned the possibility of working with DG Yuengling & Son on a potential brewing program at the school.

“As a mid-size institution, we need partners to make this successful,” he said.


We were the first to report on every aspect of this major story, from the closing of the GIANT supermarket to the recent announcement of Alvernia moving back to Pottsville. Check out our full coverage:

Photos: Coal Region Canary

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