The McVicker Plaza had its grand opening on Friday evening. The event featured speeches from both community and USD faculty members.
Made up of the new Charlie’s store and the Vermillion Area Chamber and Development Company (VCDC) offices the McVicker Plaza’s purpose is to bring the University and the community together.
Scott Pohlson, USD Vice President of Enrollment said the plaza will help build the relationship between the university and the community. He said he believes the community of Vermillion offers a unique experience for students.
“What we think is cool about USD and why we think it is important to bring students downtown is that it is few and far between for a community this size to have a university as big as we have,” Pohlson said. “And by understanding that component of community involvement is really important for life.”
Nate Welch, VCDC CEO and president spoke at the grand opening and thanked the community members for “showing up.”
“I want to thank you, each and every one of you who showed up,” Welch said. “Thank you for always showing up when we asked for you. As a community, as we continue to move forward we all need to remember the saying ‘decisions are made by those who show up,’ so again I thank you for showing up.”
After thanking community members, Welch shared how the idea for the plaza began. He said in March 2016 Pohlson called him and shared his idea of a retail store in downtown Vermillion.
“He asked me if the University of South Dakota could handle a retail store,” Welch said. “I said yes, and in the meantime, our organization was looking for an office. In about 15 minutes we mapped out that framework on how we would do this and how would be able to do all of the things we envisioned.”
The two decided on a retail store on one side, to represent the university, and offices on the other side, to represent the community. When the plan was finalized, Welch and Pohlson shared a toast with their cups of coffee.
Welch presented Pohlson with a picture of their cups, for irony, Welch used a USD mug and Pohlson a City of Vermillion one.
“And now a couple years later we were able to renovate that space,” Welch said. “It was because of that vision and the willingness and ability of our community and university that we are able to stand here today. So I want to present this gift to a friend and as a partnership between the university and the community.”
Sheila Gestring, university president also spoke at the event. She said she is looking forward to the continued relationship between the community and the university.
“Going forward, I declare the community and university forever partners,” Gestring said.
Video by Lauren Soulek courtesy of Coyote News.