RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Officials from the Economic Development Administration met at Saint Augustine's University following the university's reception of a $400,000 grant from the EDA as a part of the American Rescue Plan to conduct a feasibility study to reimagine the historic St. Agnes Hospital.
According to Veronica Creech, Vice President of Economic Development and External Engagement for Saint Augustine's University, the university now has the chance to renew what remains of St. Agnes Hospital from what many call "ruins."
"We have an opportunity now with the community behind us to reimagine what that opportunity is going to look like," Creech said.
St. Agnes Hospital, built in 1896, functioned as the only hospital in the area serving Black individuals for a long period of time and as a training school for Black Nurses, according to Saint Augustine's University. St. Agnes served the community until its closure in 1961.
Dennis Alvord, the EDA's deputy assistant secretary for economic development and chief operating officer discussed the grant and acknowledged the legacy left behind by St. Agnes Hospital.
"Its legacy as both an institution for quality training and for its commitment to providing equal access to healthcare remain as important today as when the institution was first founded," Alvord said.
Alvord additionally emphasized the important role HBCUs play in creating a diverse workforce to bolster the economy and ensure economic benefits remain accessible and equitable to all.
"We know the work of Saint Augustine's University and other HBCUs to train quality graduates is critical," Alvord said. "An abundance of research clearly lays out how diversity within workplaces increases the ability of teams to solve problems and how diversity generates a range of business benefits that directly enhance the bottom line."
The feasibility study will take place over 18 months in partnership with the university's Community Campus Master Plan, according to Creech. Creech said many advancements to the university remain in hopes for the future.
"Most of our faculty and staff here at Saint Augustine's, and even our students, hope that we will get new lab space, new computer labs, modern technology that our students can train with that as we continue strengthening our public health and health equity resources here at Saint Augustine's that St. Agnes will be a part of that and house a lot of those resources with us," Creech said.