Emmitt Smith and UNT Dallas Celebrate Opening of New Expansion at Southern Dallas Innovation Center

Dallas political leaders and UNT Dallas officials were among the speakers at the opening. Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith purchased the property in 2019 through his real estate company, E Smith Communities, as a place to build and incubate talent. UNT Dallas has now joined Dallas College and other organizations in setting up programs at the renovated center.

Former Dallas Cowboy Emmitt Smith and UNT Dallas celebrated the opening Thursday of the university’s programming space within the 4315 Innovation Center in Southern Dallas.

The 30,000-square-foot center, developed by Smith’s E Smith Communities, is a mixed-use facility providing commercial office/workforce training and retail space, aiming to create a direct pipeline for jobs creation. It’s located near the Dallas VA Medical Center at 4315 South Lancaster.

Smith purchased the property in 2019 as a place to build and incubate talent, reinvest for future growth, and inspire users to thrive in a “healthy, creative, and conscious space,” E Smith Communities founding partner and principal Tamela Thornton told Dallas Innovates back in 2020. “We are partners in the evolution of a community,” Thornton said at the time.

Emmitt Smith speaks at the UNT Dallas opening at the 1435 Innovation Center. [Photo: UNT Dallas]

Dallas College and others also operate at the center

That evolution has now come to life, and not just with UNT Dallas. The Innovation Center houses other community organizations including Dallas College’s Cedar Valley campus, which is providing high school equivalency education and job training, notably in construction. Dallas College held its own ribbon-cutting at the center in October for its 7,000-square-foot space.

Congresswoman, state senator among guests at opening

Yesterday’s opening celebration was attended by Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson and Texas State Senator Royce West, with featured speakers including UNT Dallas President Bob Mong, UNT Dallas’ Nakia Douglas, Dallas Councilmember Carolyn Arnold, Tamela Thornton, and Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith himself.

Offering youth development program, law enforcement workshops

UNT Dallas’ programs at the center will include a community youth development program designed to build pathways to economic opportunity. Law enforcement professional development workshops will be offered as well.

UNT Dallas says its programming at the center “holds the promise of creating a variety of opportunities for intergenerational and cross-cultural understanding.”

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