It used to be a grocery store.

After extensively remodeling the former Daniels Sentry Foods, UW-Whitewater officials are now calling it a Community Engagement Center.

The 52,000-square-foot building provides more space for several programs that were located on campus.

Many of those programs are designed to connect members of the business community with the university’s services and specialists.

Programs that have been moved to the new center include:

  • The Wisconsin Small Business Development Center: The center is part of a statewide network that supports entrepreneurs and business owners through free business consulting and education.
  • The Wisconsin Innovation Center: The innovation center is part of a small business development center. Its specialists provide research on market opportunities, customers and competition.
  • United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship:
  • Similar to the small-business and innovation centers, the association supports entrepreneurs.
  • Center for Inclusive Transition, Education and Employment: The center promotes the inclusion of people with disabilities in the workplace.
  • Occupational and environmental safety and health department safety lab.
  • Clinical practicum area for students in UW-Whitewater’s programs in social work, communications sciences and disorders, counselor education and a variety of other graduate and undergraduate programs that require clinical work.
  • Continuing education services, including adult and community outreach.
  • An art gallery and lab space for visual arts. The area includes glass overhead doors so people can see what is happening when it’s not in use.

Daniels Sentry Foods closed in December 2015.

In August 2018, UW-Whitewater officials announced a dual project that included the Community Engagement Center and a 70-room Fairfield Inn and Suites on the property’s south side. The hotel is still under construction.

The Community Engagement Center’s official ribbon-cutting event is Dec. 5.