Iona Students Explore How Public Art Can Fuel Economic Development in Peekskill

Latest partnership with the BCW’s Westchester Innovation Network City Labs initiative kicks off at Peekskill City Hall

Iona Students Learn Outside The Lines, Entrepreneurship

Members of the BCW’s Westchester Innovation Network City Labs with Iona students and faculty.

Iona University professors and students who will work on the City Labs project in Peekskill at a kickoff event with BCW President Marsha Gordon, left, and city representatives. Photo courtesy of the BCW.

Peekskill, N.Y. – How can public art propel economic development? That’s the question Iona University students will explore as part of the Business Council of Westchester’s fourth Westchester Innovation Network (WIN) City Labs partnership with the City of Peekskill.

Students in Iona’s Introduction to Ideation and Design Thinking class will spend several weeks meeting with stakeholders in Peekskill’s arts community and neighborhoods to learn about residents’ vision for developing the city as an arts destination. The Iona students are expected to deliver their final report the second week of December.

“Our students are paired with a local municipality to supply ideation design thinking skills to solve a real community problem,” said Rob Kissner, GaelVentures program manager at Iona University’s Hynes Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation. “We’re going to apply our creativity and brainstorm some innovative solutions for how we can leverage public art installations to facilitate community building, economic development and tourism.”

The Iona-Peekskill City Labs collaboration is one of WIN’s three efforts to propel innovation as the underpinning for the future economic growth of Westchester. WIN’s City Labs initiative launched in 2022. To date, Iona students have completed projects in Mount Vernon, New Rochelle and Yonkers.

“Thank you for coming in with all your efforts and looking at our fabulous art, what Peekskill can do in terms of the art that we’re looking to produce more moving forward, and how we want to market our city,” Peekskill Mayor Vivian C. McKenzie told the students on October 26. “We know that art really does produce economics, so we’re looking to draw on that and fortify our city.”

BCW President and CEO Marsha Gordon challenged the students to put their creativity to the test in order to help create economic opportunities for everyone.

“This initiative is designed to help brand Westchester as a place where innovation is the cornerstone for economic development,” Gordon said. “What we really encourage you to do is think outside the box about what could be innovative and what could be different here to make Peekskill stand out.”

Robin Kline presenting to Iona students.

Robin Kline, left, president of the Peekskill Arts Alliance, describes Peekskill’s art scene to Iona University students on October 26, 2023. Photo courtesy of the BCW.

Founded in 1940, Iona University is a master's-granting private, Catholic, coeducational institution of learning in the tradition of the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers. Iona's 45-acre New Rochelle campus and 28-acre Bronxville campus are just 20 miles north of Midtown Manhattan. With a total enrollment of nearly 4,000 students and an alumni base of more than 50,000 around the world, Iona is a diverse community of learners and scholars dedicated to academic excellence and the values of justice, peace and service. Iona is highly accredited, offering undergraduate degrees in liberal arts, science and business administration, as well as Master of Arts, Master of Science and Master of Business Administration degrees and numerous advanced certificate programs. Iona students enjoy small class sizes, engaged professors and a wide array of academic programs across the School of Arts & Science; LaPenta School of Business; NewYork-Presbyterian Iona School of Health Sciences; and Hynes Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation. Iona is widely recognized in prestigious rankings, including The Princeton Review’s 2024 national list of “The Best 389 Colleges” and The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse’s “2024 Best Colleges in America,” which ranked Iona at #66 in the nation overall and #8 in the nation among Catholic schools. Iona’s LaPenta School of Business is also accredited by AACSB International, a recognition awarded to just six percent of business schools worldwide. In addition, The Princeton Review recognized Iona’s on-campus MBA program as a “Best Business School for 2023.” Iona also offers a fully online MBA program for even greater flexibility. In July 2021, Iona announced the establishment of the NewYork-Presbyterian Iona School of Health Sciences, which is now principally located on Iona’s Bronxville campus in collaboration with NewYork-Presbyterian. Connecting to its Irish heritage, the University also recently announced it is expanding abroad with a new campus in County Mayo, Ireland. A school on the rise, Iona officially changed its status from College to University on July 1, 2022, reflecting the growth of its academic programs and the prestige of an Iona education.