AUGUSTA — A groundbreaking ceremony was held Tuesday for a new project that is expected to revitalize two neighborhoods in the home of the Masters Tournament.
Thanks to a $10 million donation announced by Augusta National Golf Club in November and gifted jointly with corporate partners AT&T, Bank of America and IBM, the HUB for Community Innovation is expected to be up and running by the spring of 2022.
The project includes a pair of “mission-aligned” facilities. One building will be the new home for multiple nonprofits currently serving thousands of Augusta-area families. The other will be a new headquarters for the Boys & Girls Clubs of the CSRA.
The HUB will be located in the historic Harrisburg neighborhood and also will serve the Laney-Walker community. A coalition led by the Community Foundation for the CSRA, the Boys & Girls Clubs of the CSRA, and the Medical College of Georgia Foundation is heading up the project.
The Community Foundation for the CSRA, thanks to a partnership with the Masters, each year distributes grants to local organizations. Aiken County is among the areas served by the foundation.
Speakers at Tuesday’s event pointed out the challenges in Augusta’s urban core, including public disinvestment, the incremental departure of locally-owned businesses, and erosion of many basic community services.
“When the old Kroger shopping center that stood on this property closed in early 2017, it brought into clear focus many of the issues that have been so difficult for the communities of Laney-Walker and Harrisburg,” said Shell Berry, CEO of the Community Foundation for the CSRA. “Losing the last grocery store in the downtown area wasn’t the singular breaking point. But it was definitely emblematic of the challenges we, as a city, need to address.”
The vision for the HUB is for it to foster collaboration among nonprofits and neighbors by hosting community events and providing space for civic groups to gather.
Four local nonprofits will share space in the larger of the two buildings, which will be approximately 33,000 square feet. They are Augusta Locally Grown, Augusta University Literacy Center, Harrisburg Family Health Care and RISE Augusta.
The new Boys & Girls Clubs support center will be approximately 16,000 square feet and will allow the organization resources to focus on youth mentoring, college readiness, workforce readiness, virtual programming and more.
“Boys & Girls Clubs serve the kids most impacted by these inequities and provide a comprehensive approach to youth development that builds connected pathways out of poverty,” said Kim Evans, CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of the CSRA and a co-leader of the project. “As we chart the future of Boys & Girls Clubs in Augusta, we are committed to enhancing our programs and our facilities, allowing us to serve more kids, more often, with greater impact.”