In May 1963, University officials announced the creation of an economic expansion center on campus. Designed to work closely with industries in the northern Michigan area and to focus on job-creating industrial education, the center was a joint venture between Central and the Northern Michigan Development Council, which hoped to help alleviate the rising unemployment levels in northern Michigan. The Center for Economic Expansion and Technical Assistance moved into an existing white house at 3635 S. Franklin across from the recently completed Brooks science building, in the area of the Music Building today.
The center was established with the help of $100,000 used for operating costs for the first year, the product of a grant from the Area Redevelopment Administration, a federal organization in the Department of Commerce. Central also provided $18,000 in technical services through the schools of Business Administration, Arts and Sciences, Health and Physical Education, and Graduate Studies. The center was the first of its kind in the United States and became a model for other cooperative relationships between universities and private industry.
The center was in operation by July 1, 1963 and officials held a formal dedication ceremony in September 1963. The center saw rapid success in its first years in operation. By the time it was dedicated, there were 25 projects underway and the center had created four new faculty positions on campus. During its first fifteen months, the center claimed 2,300 new jobs and several hundred more were created indirectly. The center continued to receive grant money from the Area Redevelopment Council, establishing working relationships with private industry in 33 different northern Michigan counties. Their most successful project, funded by a $78,000 grant from the Michigan state legislature, involved an examination into the tourism industry in Michigan.
By the late 1960s, the center stopped receiving money from the US Department of Commerce. The building that housed the office, which was originally a simple white dwelling, was removed in 1969 to make room for the construction of the Franklin Mall south of the present-day Park Library building.