DECATUR - With a full load of college classes to take, Millikin University student Andrew Schenk wasn't sure he wanted to take the risk and start up his own business at the same time.

But Schenk has found a space in what's being called "The Hub" at Millikin and decided to give Chimp Studios a go. The business writes codes for iPhone game programming.

"I want to say I tried," Schenk said. "It would have been a much tougher decision if not for this space. I'm taking a hobby and transforming it into a professional service."

Schenk plans to graduate in December. In the meantime, he and other students who want to take control of their own careers can gather together in a place to make their business ideas grow.

Millikin officially unveiled "The Hub" during a reception Friday. The space is located at 1135 W. Wood St., Suite 3, next to Domino's Pizza.

It has three offices that can be shared by different businesses, a conference room and meeting area with couches. The name looks like it might stick and work is being done to develop a logo, said Andy Heise, one of its directors.

Heise said they're working to bring various workshops to the center.

"We wanted a very student-centered space," said Sharon Alpi, director of the university's Center for Entrepreneurship. "We hope it will be not just the tenants but an association of students who want to be owners of their own career. This is a place where you can start."

Millikin President Doug Zemke said the idea has been developed over the years since the Center for Entrepreneurship was started and "The Hub" is a place to give students a hands-on learning experience.

"There are not a lot of places that are doing this," Zemke said. "This is not something you do overnight. It takes a while to get there."

The space brings together a cross discipline of students, including those operating the record label First Step Records and working to revamp Pipe Dreams Studio Theatre.

Brady Rhoades has had an office at the center since starting his marketing graphics consultation firm over the summer. The business, zeroeightconsulting, has taken off better than Rhoades had even been expecting, thanks in part to having a rent-free headquarters as he starts it.

He uses the central location to meet with his two employees or clients when he's in Decatur. He works with small businesses across Central Illinois.

"When I'm in Decatur, I need to be here," Rhoades said. "I want to be able to have control, and I want it to be the best."

Rhoades anticipates growing out of the space and eventually renting or leasing his own office. But for now, "The Hub" is a place he and the other aspiring entrepreneurs can call home.

clusvardi@herald-review.com|421-7972

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