Neuroscience center fuels Greenville’s renaissance

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The Packard Building, constructed in 1857, is the home to a new world-class neuroscience center in downtown Greenville, Mercer County.

The Packard Building, constructed in 1857, is the home to a new world-class neuroscience center in downtown Greenville, Mercer County.

The story of Greenville Neuromodulation Center (GNC) and Greenville Neuromodulation Services (GNS) is one of hope.

Hope for the patients living with Parkinson’s disease and other various movement disorders, and hope for the small town of Greenville, located about 80 miles north of Pittsburgh in Mercer County.

There has been a remarkable renaissance in this borough of almost 5,900 residents since GNC and GNS opened, according to Tim Williams, GNC Vice President and Team Pennsylvania Foundation-led International Business Advisory Board Member.

A nonprofit corporation, GNC is dedicated to the advancement of Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) and other neuromodulation therapies for patients living with Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders. A remarkable therapy, DBS treats a variety of neurological and psychiatric disorders by way of permanently implanted electrodes that electrically stimulate the brain.

Although planning and building restoration has been underway for seven years, only a few months have passed since GNC began operations. In that short period, GNC staff has made significant gains in the development of medical hardware, software, devices and therapies for commercial use by physicians and healthcare professionals. Construction continues as the demand at GNC grows for research, educational and patient-care space – a trend that is expected to accelerate in the future.

Recent highlights include the addition of researcher and computational scientist He Huang and the announcement of the Haer Family Symposium, a neuroscience lecture series hosted by Thiel College. The three-day event for students and community members features talks by noted neuroscientists on leading edge medicine and its ethical implications.

With the opening of GNC and revitalization of Greenville’s downtown, new restaurants have opened, a nearby hotel was renovated, and is generally at capacity, and a study is underway by the local economic development corporation to investigate construction of another hotel.

“I’ve seen it all in Greenville during my life,” Williams said. “I’ve seen its heyday and I’ve been here when it has been depressed. We’re currently under Act 47, but we hope to come out of it in about 1.5 years. But there has been a change. You can see it in the people and you can feel the resurgence in the community.”

Instead of building a new facility in an industrial park in the suburbs, GNC President/Founder Fred Haer and Tim Williams, consciously decided to renovate a historic building built in 1857 in the heart of downtown, according to Williams.

“To do it for downtown is amazing,” Williams said. “It took people with vision and commitment to make this happen.  You have a person, in Fred Haer, who could have located this business anywhere else in the world, but he chose to come to Greenville to make a difference.”

Earlier this year, Team PA’s sister publication, Keystone Edge, ran a feature story on GNC examining the resurgence in the industrial town, the center’s ties to nearby Thiel College and how DBS improves the quality of life for so many people.

One of Keystone Edge’s most read stories thanks to a social media campaign that garnished thousands of hits via Twitter, Facebook and other outlets, pride in Greenville is at an all-time high following the article and others printed by local media as well as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The article received nearly 5,350 “likes” on Facebook alone.

“Every time I go some place, people are asking about it, asking what they can do to help,” Williams said. “Whether it is financially or helping to get the word out or coming to drive a nail, it’s really amazing from what I’ve been hearing from the people in our town. What is happening here couldn’t have happened to a nicer town.”

Editor’s Note: Read the Keystone Edge article on Greenville and GNC.

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