— By Hannah Dorss —
Since its founding in 2003, John Paul the Great Catholic University has been receiving more and more recognition every year as it grows and starts taking its place in the local community. Every year, classes full of students graduate and move on to work in various industries. Both while the students are in school and when they graduate and join the workforce, local communities seem to be thrilled to have JPCatholic students around.
After the university moved to Escondido in 2013 under the leadership of Dr. Derry Connolly, the founder and president of the school, JPCatholic has made a noticeable impact on the city of Escondido itself. It is because of this impact that Dr. Connolly received the Business Leader of the Year award from the Escondido Chamber of Commerce for 2017.
The City’s Chamber of Commerce of Escondido has noticed JPCatholic’s presence and seen many positive things come from it. First, JPCatholic has raised the status of the central downtown city area by purchasing several big, unused buildings and employing them for the university’s uses. The big buildings had been on the market for a long time, as no small boutique or restaurant was interested in buying a large building big enough to be a department store in the past. As Dr. Connolly explains, “JPCatholic has helped Escondido in that we are picking up pieces of real estate that they had a really tough time filling.”
In a similar vein, the school’s move to Escondido has allowed for the presence of high-end rental communities to be built. One of the first of such complexes, Latitude 33 was built a few years ago, and JPCatholic worked with it to secure housing for the students. This not only benefited JPCatholic, but also allowed for Latitude to be completely leased, which in turn showed other property developers in the area that the demand for higher-end housing was present. In turn, a snowballing effect was created where Escondido is progressively raising its quality of living and business demands.
On a business level, after real estate has been filled and the heart of the city populated, other businesses can much more easily thrive. As Dr. Connolly explains, the more residential housing demands, the more restaurant demands.
For having lifted the community and quality of the city and its business prospects, Dr. Connolly received the Business Leader of the Year Award from the Chamber of Commerce in Escondido. In Dr. Connolly, the Chamber of Commerce found a leader who was bettering the local community, not only through the students graduating from the University, but also because of the presence of the university in helping revitalize the downtown.
Dr. Connolly will join a committee of other award recipients next year and help choose the upcoming Business leaders of the year. In the meantime, he continues to keep JPCatholic alive and running as President and Chief Academic Office of the institution. Dr. Connolly is also helping incubate small startup businesses sprouting from within JPCatholic. Yellow Line Digital, a social media marketing company founded by faculty and alumni several years ago, is actually located right near JPCatholic on Grand Avenue.
In the years to come, many real estate developments are slated to take place, including a chapel and more student housing. No doubt these further endeavors will increase the school’s capacity and its impact on the community at large. As Dr. Connolly says, “It takes a long time to create successful businesses. But we’ve started.”