SMC Studio opens in downtown Spartanburg
This article appeared originally in the Fall 2018 issue of Frontiers Magazine.
On Wednesday, May 2, SMC Studio, the College’s new meeting and event space, officially opened for business in downtown Spartanburg. SMC Studio will be available to the public to rent for a fee, with nonprofits receiving a 50 percent discount. SMC students, faculty, and staff use SMC Studio for college-related events free of charge.
SMC Studio is located in the historic Aug W. Smith Building (174 E. Main St.), which was built in 1926 and housed department stores for most of its 92 years. Blue Wall Real Estate, based in Greenville, South Carolina, purchased the building in 2017 and invested $10.5 million to transform it into luxury apartments and two retail storefronts. The College will lease space for SMC Studio for five years, using generous gifts from Phyllis Buchheit DeLapp, a former Board of Trustees member and longtime SMC supporter; Scott and (Board of Trustees member) Evelyn Middleton; and the JM Smith Foundation. Gift funds also were used to outfit the Studio with a conference room, classroom area, and seating area.
In the short time the Studio has been open, the approximately 1,200-square-foot space has been used for a number of College events and meetings. It has also been used by local nonprofit organizations, churches, summer day camps, and numerous for-profit companies. “We’re making great contacts in the community, which, we hope, will lead to opportunities such as internships and jobs for our students,” says Courtney Shelton, Vice President for Professional Development and Design. “People walking down Main Street will stop in to see the gorgeous art on the walls or ask about using the space, and they learn about SMC at the same time.”
“We wanted SMC Studio to be a multipurpose space for the SMC community, to let our students experience and participate in the entrepreneurship hub that downtown Spartanburg has become,” says Jennifer Dillenger, SMC’s Vice President for Institutional Advancement, who led the development of SMC Studio. “And, because SMC is located off the beaten path, a storefront in the heart of downtown gives us a visible presence alongside Spartanburg Community College, Converse College, Wofford College, and USC Upstate.”
To boost awareness of the Studio and to kick-start collaborations with local organizations, the College offered SMC Studio rent-free for one year. However, demand proved so great that the College was unable to meet it without incurring unexpected operating expenses. To offset costs, the College now charges a usage fee.
“The cost is lower than many event spaces in Spartanburg,” says Dillenger. “We’ve discovered there is a great need for free or low-cost meeting space downtown, and we’re sharing what we’ve learned with the Chamber of Commerce.”
Learn more about SMC Studio and how your organization can use it at studio.smcsc.edu.