Brooklyn’s St. Francis College to Launch Program in Industry City

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Undergraduates at St. Francis College, which has an enrollment of more than 2,600 (Photos courtesy of St. Francis College)

NYU Tandon is there, CUNY’s City Tech is too, and now St. Francis College will also have a presence at Industry City. The college, based in Brooklyn Heights, has launched SFC Innovate, a business hub that will give students hands-on internship experience as well as networking opportunities with the hundreds of companies in the Sunset Park complex.

St. Francis, which offers 72 major and minor fields of study for more than 2,600 students, will have a similarly diverse array of companies to partner with at Industry City.

“It’s not just for one particular type of major. One of the things that we emphasize here at St. Francis is a strong foundation in liberal arts. And because there’s so much variety at Industry City–non-profits, retail, warehouse, media, IT–students will be able to explore from a variety of angles,” Jennifer Lancaster, the vice president for academics and academic dean at St. Francis, told The Bridge.

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“Almost every industry that you could imagine is going to have a space in Industry City,” said Miguel Martinez-Saenz, St. Francis College’s president

SFC Innovate is a partnership between St. Francis and Ikove Venture Partners, a venture-development company based in Columbus, Ohio. Ikove’s newly launched FinTech Startup Nursery, an incubator for launching financial-tech companies, will be housed at SFC Innovate, where student interns will help with business development.

“[Ikove] wanted to have a location in New York somewhere and they wanted to be affiliated with a college,” said Miguel Martinez-Saenz, president of St. Francis. “What they do in Ohio is more related to tech. What they’re going to do in New York is tied it to business, marketing, finance, accounting, business development, and entrepreneurship. They were looking for a home for that and we decided that it would be a good partnership.”

To help students connect with the companies at Industry City, SFC Innovate will be hiring two entrepreneurs-in-residence who will act as a liaison team, as well as coaches for the students in acquiring skills and finding career direction. “Almost every industry that you could imagine is going to have a space in Industry City. And so for us, from an educational perspective, that’s ideal,” Martinez-Saenz told The Bridge.  

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Just the close proximity to the business world creates connections, said Richard Relkin, director of media relations for St. Francis. “When we were over there [recently], I was waiting for the elevator and the gentleman that I was talking to was asking who we were and what we were doing there. And we’re now in discussions for internships,” he said. “Imagine if you’re there every day, talking to the 400-plus companies, the opportunities for students–they’re limitless.”

Industry City, a mixed-use complex of 16 buildings on 35 acres, houses a workforce of 7,000, up from 1,900 in 2013. St. Francis was founded in 1859 by the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn.–By Arden Phillips