RUMFORD — The University College Center at Rumford/Mexico is moving to the River Valley Technology Center at 180 Congress St., with an anticipated Aug. 1 opening, center Director Lisa Cooper said Monday afternoon.

Cooper said the center at 13 Brown St. in Mexico is “a little off the beaten path in its current building.”

“There’s been some conversations for awhile now about moving locations,” Cooper said. “There have never been any major renovations in the current building, especially in terms of (wheelchair) accessibility. I investigated potential sites in Mexico, Dixfield and Rumford, and the River Valley Technology Center seemed to provide the most visible, centralized and flexible option.”

She said the Technology Center is a “more modern space” for the center.

The University College Center will move into the second floor of the former International Paper bag mill.

University College is the University of Maine’s distance education organization which offers access to courses and programs from the seven universities at more than 40 locations and online.

The University of Maine board of trustees approved the proposal in January, Cooper said. The River Valley Technology Center is acting as project manager, while Building Solutions LLC of Oxford is serving as contractor, she said.

“It’s exciting, because the floor we’re moving into is empty and a shell at this point,” Cooper said. “We get to build to our needs, rather than retrofit our center into the technology center. We get to accommodate to what the students need.”

“We liked the idea of being an anchor point in the downtown Rumford area, inspiring startup businesses and other nonprofit partners to join us,” Cooper said. “Moving to the technology center makes us very visible in the heart of the Rumford area. It allows Rumford to tell the community, ‘Hey, we have higher education at the heart of the community.’”

She said she hopes the move “will act as a catalyst and anchor for further tenant occupancy in that manner.”

“The new space, centralized within the downtown, also puts us within walking distance of other downtown businesses, along with municipal authorities, and community partners,” Cooper said. “Hopefully, this new location will encourage new collaborative opportunities and invigorate customer traffic.”

“It’s a huge vote of confidence from the University of Maine Board of Trustees, and shows that they’re willing to allocate money toward these University College Centers,” Cooper said. “We’re hoping for a nice, smooth transition from Mexico to Rumford with no level of disruption in the classes whatsoever.”

Cooper is also director of the University College Center in Norway/South Paris.

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