By Christina Knauss
Girl Scouts from around the state of South Carolina will reap the benefits when a new building on Williams Street in downtown Columbia is complete.
Construction officially started today on the Cathy Novinger Girl Scout Leadership Center at 1101 Williams St. near the Vista.
The center, slated to open in mid-2019, will be run by the Girl Scouts of South Carolina Mountains to Midlands and will serve as an activity and learning hub for girls from the 22 counties the organization serves. Currently there are about 10,000 Scouts in those counties.
The new center is named after the late Cathy Novinger, a pioneering business woman and community leader in the Midlands who also was a big supporter of the Girl Scouts.
The center is being constructed in a renovated building on Williams Street that was previously owned by the S.C. Department of Agriculture. Design for the center is being handled by the Boudreaux Group of Columbia.
The building will include a 200-person event and meeting space, a climbing wall, classrooms and gathering spaces, as well as bunkrooms for overnight visits.
At a kickoff event for the new construction, Girl Scouts leaders from around the state said the center’s location in Columbia will provide new opportunities for visiting scouts, including a chance to visit the Statehouse, S.C. State Museum and Riverbanks Zoo, as well as outdoor activities on the nearby Congaree River.
“We are building this center as a destination for girls from around the state to visit and to help them become women of courage, confidence and character,” said Kim Hutzell, president and CEO of Girl Scouts of South Carolina Mountains to Midlands.
Hutzell said the Novinger Center will offer activities centered around central premises of the Girl Scout movement, including leadership, health and wellness, education, outdoor living and STEM fields.
Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin was present for the event and said the center will be an important new addition to the lives of girls in the Columbia area. Benjamin said his wife, mother-in-law and daughters are involved in Girl Scouts.
“I am so glad you are making this investment in Columbia,” Mayor Benjamin said. “You are helping us to build a great state and a better world by investing in our girls. This center is going to be a gamechanger for the Girl Scouts and for girls in the Midlands.”