Redefining the Classroom

Old Mission Bank makes major gift to South Hall project

Posted: October 30th, 2012

BIG CHECK, BRIGHT FUTURE – Old Mission Bank President Gary Sharp signs off on a ceremonial check that represents a $100,000 gift to the South Hall Renovation Project at Lake Superior State University. Looking on from left to right are Catherine Chenoweth, OMB Executive Vice President and CFO; OMB board members D. Joseph McCoy, Carol Brawley, and Fred L. Smith; CEO David Firack; board member Tony Haller; Gary Sharp (seated); board chair Tom Robinson; board member Jim Halvorsen; LSSU Dean of the College of Business and Engineering David Finley; Tom Coates, Executive Director, LSSU Foundation. Not pictured are OMB board members Steve Cannello, Kevin Cooper and Ted Haapala. (LSSU photo by John Shibley)

A print-resolution photo that runs with the caption above can be found by clicking here.

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – Lake Superior State University's campaign to renovate South Hall into a state-of-art facility that will house its School of Business has received a major gift from Old Mission Bank. The bank's $100,000 donation means that a portion of South Hall's first level will be named the Old Mission Bank Finance and Economics Center.

Officials with LSSU accepted the check during a ceremony held in Old Mission's Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., corporate headquarters on Oct. 16.

The restoration and renovation project, slated to begin in winter 2014, will turn South Hall into a cutting edge learning environment for students and collaborative space for the community, while preserving an important historic building on campus. When it's completed, the building will house LSSU’s School of Business and its Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

“We’ve set very aggressive goals within the School of Business to increase enrollment, strengthen existing programs, and launch new areas of study," said David Finley, Dean of LSSU's College of Business and Engineering, who accepted the gift on behalf of LSSU. "The new South Hall will provide a focal point for our region to use as we reach for new heights. This facility will strengthen the university and its impact on our area by providing a state-of-the-art learning environment for future generations of new professionals who will augment the business community. If our region succeeds, we all succeed.”

LSSU alumnus and Old Mission Bank Chief Executive Officer David Firack presented an over-sized ceremonial -- as well the real -- check to Finley.

"The corporate, personal and professional success of Old Mission Bank, our directors and staff, are invariably tied to the success of Lake Superior State University," Firack said. "As an entrepreneur with a dream that embraced others who helped create a business plan to establish a new bank in Chippewa County, I understand first-hand how important a forward-reaching spirit is to creating a new business that will lead to new jobs, whether here in the U.P. or throughout the State of Michigan.”

The project has two components: renovation of an existing 32,000 sq. ft. building with original portions dating back to the early 1900s, when South Hall served as an army barracks for Fort Brady; and an addition of approximately 12,000 sq. ft. to connect the original two wings and form an atrium that creates an interactive commons with an expanded café, new program rooms, and support space.

Old Mission Bank's gift energizes an ongoing campaign to raise private funds that will be matched 3-to-1 by the state, for a total of $12 million needed to complete the project.

"Renovations will retain the flavor of the original Fort Brady exterior, but transform existing interior space into a one-of-a-kind educational environment that embodies LSSU's commitment to accessibility, sustainability, and community," said Finley.

Old Mission Bancorp, Inc. is a single-bank holding company formed in 1999 and headquartered in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. Banking services are delivered through its subsidiary, Old Mission Bank, with $102 million in total assets, and offices in Sault Ste. Marie and Pickford, Mich.

Run a Web search on "South Hall opportunity" to see an animated fly-through of the building's renovation plans. For information about the South Hall project, contact the LSSU Foundation at 906-635-2665 or


CONTACTS: John Shibley, e-mail, 906-635-2314; Tom Pink, e-mail, 635-2315.