Emergent Campus, Trinidad State College, and Trinidad School District receive $3.5 million grant to bring innovation hub to Trinidad

logo image
logo image
logo image

In a groundbreaking development for education and workforce training in Colorado, the Emergent Campus project is thrilled to announce an award of $3.5 million in funding from Opportunity Now, Colorado's innovative grant program designed to foster talent development across the state. This substantial investment will enable the expansion of Emergent Campus's operations in Fremont County and establish a new footprint in Trinidad, Colorado.

“We are thrilled to be welcomed into the Trinidad community, bringing our passion for rural economic development, authentic partnerships, and new career opportunities for students,” said Brad Rowland, a leader and co-founder at Emergent Campus.

The Opportunity Now program, facilitated by the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, aims to connect Coloradans with in-demand, high-skill, high-wage occupations, focusing on innovative and collaborative projects. Emergent Campus, a trailblazer in linking business start-ups with a locally trained workforce, aligns perfectly with this mission, making it an ideal recipient of the grant.

With this funding, Emergent Campus will leverage space between Trinidad State College and the Trinidad School District to create its second remote work, incubator, and training hub. This initiative promises to be a transformative step for Trinidad, a small town poised for significant growth and development.

The project envisions a vibrant hub where education, business, and industry intersect to offer myriad opportunities. Key features will include:

Partnerships with Local Businesses and Development of New Industries:
The project aims to create jobs, attract new businesses, and train local students and adults to pursue business and technology-related career opportunities. Building on the successful work in Fremont County, project leaders expect to demonstrate that tech-based jobs can be created and supported in rural Colorado.

Integration with Educational Institutions:
Working closely with Trinidad State College and Trinidad School District, the project will provide students with internships, college certificates, and authentic, hands-on learning experiences.  The project leverages existing partnerships with Pueblo Community College and Canon City High School, extending its educational and economic impact throughout the region.

Remote Work and Training Facilities:
The project offers office space in the Trinidad School District Park Street building and at Trinidad State College’s Freudenthal Library. Trinidad School District received a Colorado Department of Education BEST grant of nearly $20 million to renovate Trinidad Middle School, which included the Park Street Building.  The space created an opportunity as leaders were imagining new possibilities for the creation of Emergent Campus Trinidad.

The Trinidad State College library, currently undergoing an $8.2 million renovation, will open a state-of-the art MakerSpace and Business Innovation Training Hub later this year.  In addition, Trinidad State is planning to launch a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration this fall to complement its array of applied associates degrees, as well as certificates in Computer Information Systems (CIS), Cybersecurity, and Entrepreneurship.  The TSD1 Park Street building is across the street from the TSC library, creating an ideal juxtaposition of energy around learning, entrepreneurship, and technology – energy not often seen in rural communities.

Local leaders have expressed their excitement and support for this initiative. Dr. Rhonda Epper, president of Trinidad State College, stated, "This is more than just a funding boost; it's a catalyst for change in our community. The Emergent Campus project will open doors for our youth and bring new life to our local economy."

Dr. Bonnie Aaron, superintendent of Trinidad School District 1, added, "The collaboration between education, business, and industry is exactly what we need. This project is a game-changer for students in Trinidad and Las Animas County."

The project launches July 1, 2024, and thanks to Opportunity Now, it has 27 months of funding to develop and sustain the investment.  Other partners participating in the grant include the Colorado Education Initiative, Fremont Economic Development Corporation, South Central Tech Sector Partnership, Pueblo Community College, and Data Driven Economic Strategies. 

About Emergent Campus
Emergent Campus is an award-winning business campus that fosters sustainable rural prosperity, providing office and incubation space for innovation sector workers, remote tech workers, and other entrepreneurs.  Since opening in 2019, it has provided a solution for companies looking to expand and thrive in Fremont County.  Emergent Campus is responsible for the growth of new tech-based jobs and numerous internships across Fremont County.  It is located at the historic Florence High School building at 215 Maple Avenue, just blocks from downtown Florence.  In 2022, the campus was listed on the National and State Register of Historic Places, and was a 2024 recipient of the prestigious Stephen H. Hart Award for Historic Preservation. To learn more about Emergent Campus and their community projects, please visit: www.EmergentCampus.com, www.TechSTART.FremontEDC.com.

Trinidad Campus imageAbout Trinidad State College
Established in 1925, Trinidad State College was the first community college in Colorado. With campuses in Trinidad and Alamosa, Colorado, Trinidad State provides an affordable and accessible education to students in southern Colorado and beyond. Trinidad State offers both hands-on and academic study, including certificates and two and four-year degrees. Trinidad State offers the full college experience in a small-town setting including dining and residence halls, and intercollegiate sports at a picturesque and spacious 17-acre campus.

Trinidad School District imageAbout Trinidad School District
Trinidad School District 1 was the first public school district in Colorado, organized 10 years before Colorado became a state.  District 1 is committed to teaching relevant life skills, while honoring Trinidad’s diverse and rich mining and Old West history.  The K-12 district is made up of Fisher’s Peak Elementary School (K-5), Trinidad Middle School (6-8) and Trinidad High School (9-12).