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Greenville SMART

Greenville SMART is a distinctly collaborative initiative shared between a small town and its small university.

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Created from a common vision and mutual effort, the Greenville SMART initiative will bring exciting opportunities and transformation to the entire community. The Greenville SMART strategy reframes and reimagines higher education to make an impact beyond campus walls, creating a hub where all kinds of learning and career advancement can happen in ways beneficial to the community, university and students.

The mission of the Greenville SMART initiative is to unify the resources and connections of the University, local community and regional businesses to cultivate economic development, educational opportunities and connection for an entire town and surrounding region.

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Economic Development

In an effort to reverse the migration of business, employment opportunities and talent from rural IL, Greenville SMART links the resources of the University and community to create a robust, entrepreneur-friendly environment.

Professional business and technical assistance available through the Greenville SMART initiative will help sustain and grow existing companies while encouraging the creation and growth of new businesses.

The services offered will include assistance in:

  • Strategic business planning
  • Research and development for new products and services
  • Market research and analysis
  • Marketing and promotion strategy
  • Mentoring
  • Networking
  • Connection to technological and engineering resources

The successful collaboration of the community and University by way of Greenville SMART will create experiential learning opportunities for students of all ages, engage the talents of university faculty and leverage local resources and businesses. The Greenville SMART initiative will build a distinctive link between the community and University that results in a stronger, more vibrant economy and community for Greenville and surrounding areas.

Community Connection

The Greenville SMART initiative will soon find a permanent home in the heart of historic downtown Greenville. A 10,800 square foot 3-story brick building at 102 N 2nd Street will undergo a full renovation to become The Greenville SMART Center, the flagship location and organizational hub for Greenville SMART. The renovation, set to begin fall 2018, will bring renewed energy to existing businesses and provide a connection point for collaboration and partnership. Renovations and improvements associated with the SMART Center will freshen the Greenville square and directly benefit an adjacent business through a shared elevator. The elevator will provide access to all three floors of the SMART Center and two floors of the adjacent building, currently Joe’s Pizza. In addition, local food service enterprises will benefit economically as they cater events and groups in the Greenville SMART Center.

Educational Opportunities

The Greenville SMART initiative and center will provide carefully curated programming focused on enriching rural community life. These unique and engaging opportunities will bring education beyond the university walls and allow access for students of all ages.

Greenville SMART Center Programs may include:

  • Demonstrations and cooking classes in the SMART Center commercial kitchen.
  • Professional development and networking events.
  • Day camps and lessons for children.
  • Staging for unique exhibits and displays.
  • Access to specialists on topics ranging from agriculture to technology.
  • Unique events showcasing art, music and film.

Experience First

The Greenville SMART Center also expands the reach of Greenville University’s unique Experience First programming.

Experience First partners students with industry leaders for innovative, professionally focused learning opportunities. Students work on real-world projects, with real-world challenges offering a taste of the high stakes environment that exists beyond classroom doors. Experience First not only prepares students for the professional marketplace with hands-on work experiences, it also enables organizations and businesses to benefit from the resources and brainpower that an institution like Greenville University can offer.

Greenville SMART Center at a Glance


Level One will feature locally sourced goods, a coffee shop and open space for collaboration and community connection.


Level Two will feature adaptable office and work space for entrepreneurs and innovative business expansions.


Level Three features a large space equipped for conferences, speakers and events, plus a fully functioning commercial kitchen with observation area.

Greenville University has received a $999,968 grant from the EDA to help fund the Greenville SMART Center Initiative.

The City of Greenville will partner with the University in this initiative and has awarded $200K in TIF funds toward the building renovation effort.

The Briner Advisory Board provided both intellectual and financial backing to make this initiative possible.