The Willow Brook facility, a former poultry processing plant in downtown Springfield, stood empty when Missouri State purchased it in 2009. Thanks to a generous gift, it now has a new name and the University has the resources to begin renovations.
A seven-figure gift from the Robert W. Plaster Foundation will help Missouri State create the Robert W. Plaster Center for Free Enterprise and Business Development.
Stephen Plaster, son of late businessman Robert W. Plaster, was on hand May 27 for the announcement of the gift. He said his father was an advocate of free enterprise and would also approve of supporting the University.
After it is renovated, the center will house a business incubator. Business incubators are programs that support and encourage entrepreneurs in a variety of ways. The center will also house the University’s technology and construction management program. The building will be a major part of the IDEA Commons, a downtown research park that combines residential, retail and entertainment facilities with University programs. IDEA stands for innovation, design, entrepreneurship and arts.
“This gift and the naming of the facility allow us to take a significant step forward in the development of the IDEA Commons,” Missouri State President Michael T. Nietzel said. “We very much appreciate the Robert W. Plaster Foundation investing in this venture.”
Phase I work has already started with the installation of a new roof. The exterior and interior work will be completed in two more phases. Phase II will be completed by the end of 2011 and Phase III will be done by fall semester 2012.
“We very much appreciate the Plaster family’s long association with Missouri State University,” said Brent Dunn, vice president for university advancement. “From the Plaster Student Union to the Plaster Sports Complex to many other initiatives, the Plaster family has been there to enrich the college experience for our students. This funding for this center just continues that long relationship.”