ST. LOUIS — The Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis announced its plan to transform an over 100-year-old building into an entrepreneurship and women’s business center.

The new business center will be located near Natural Bridge and Newstead in north St. Louis. It’s the same building that formerly housed the old Mound City Bank and later Commerce Bank.

“From these bare walls and this very strong structure that was built 100 years ago, what will arise here is the National Urban League’s 13th entrepreneurship center building,” said Marc Morial, the president and CEO of the National Urban League.

The center will provide technical assistance, strategic planning, customized workshops, access to funding, and other support for dozens of business owners — whether they are just starting out or seeking to expand.

“The National Urban League and Urban League affiliates have been long recognized as a job connector, connecting people to job opportunities. Why are we focused on African American businesses? Because they’ve been marginalized and ignored,” said Morial.

The old building was purchased by Commerce Bank in the 1970s. Some years ago, it moved out when they built a drive-through facility across the street.

Commerce has now donated the massive old building to the Urban League. The bank believes it’s an investment in small businesses in St. Louis.

“Small businesses really do form the backbone of this community and the economy, and that’s true for black and brown-owned business of which there are too few,” said John Kemper, the president and CEO of Commerce Bancshares Incorporated.

Commerce Bank will also pay for renovations to the building to make it into a center to help small businesses. A grand opening will take place later this year