SDSU researchers have been moving into the new Innovation Campus Seed Technolo-gy Laboratory this week. The lab is located near the U.S. Highway 14 Bypass on the north side of the 125-acre research park. Innovation Campus CEO and Executive Director Teresa McKnight updated county commissioners on the park’s progress. Tuesday.
As SDSU researchers move into the Innovation Campus’s new Seed Technology Laboratory this week, plans are in the works for an addition to the Innovation Center and a third building for the state’s first research park.
South Dakota State University Innovation Campus CEO and Executive Director Teresa McKnight updated Brookings County commissioners Tuesday on the latest happenings at the 125-acre research park, which the county has helped fund since 2005.
After 20 months of operation, the Innovation Campus is already generating revenue, as 18 companies occupy space in the Innovation Center building, employing more than 50 full- and part-time employees, McKnight told commissioners.
The Seed Technology Lab north of the Innovation Center was recently completed; the park now has two buildings totaling about 60,000-square feet in which to house offices and specialized equipment.
Construction crews are now finishing work on the roads, curbs, gutters, sidewalks and utilities for the entire 125-acre park.
“There’s a lot of earth movers, a lot of construction going on at the Innovation Campus. It’s fantastic, and we hope to have everything completed (by) fall of 2010 before snow falls,” McKnight said.
Once the infrastructure is complete on the entire site, businesses will have the ability to come in and construct buildings, according to McKnight.
Possible second wing
She hopes to hear by September whether funding will come through for a second wing on the main Innovation Center building, which would add another 18,000-square feet. Also, an architectural rending is being drawn up for a third building.
McKnight said the park’s progress isn’t limited to physical changes.
“A lot of things are happening behind the scenes,” she said. “We’re not visible to the eye, but we’ll bring forth a lot of business opportunities, (a) lot of entrepreneurial opportunities for Brookings and Brookings County.”
SDSU is working hard to move the park forward, she added.
“SDSU is working very hard to generate more research, more invention disclosures, and new ways of commercialization in their technology.”
McKnight said the park is progressing very well, despite the poor economy.
“We’ve made great progress, and I do have to point out that great progress has been made in very troubled economic times,” she said. “We have a down economy, so that was probably not the best time to be starting a research park; but I think just looking at the site can prove that we’ve made great progress.”
She thanked commissioners for their support and asked for their continued patience, as research parks can be slow to develop.
“The hardest part for all the partners involved is patience and time, so again, we are working very hard on progressing the Innovation Campus,” she said.
“Patience and time is critical to generate success of a park, and we really don’t want to press pause now.”
She said $28.6 million has been put into the research park to date. That includes construction costs on the two buildings and infrastructure and the Innovation Village apartment complex.
The research park operates under the auspices of the Growth Partnership board, which includes leaders from Brookings city and county, state officials, Brookings Economic Development Corporation, the SDSU Foundation and SDSU itself.
Growth Partnership board president Jay Bender echoed comments about commissioners being patient.
“The patience that Theresa talked about is important. I want you to still have some patience with us,” he said. “We are making progress on this, but this is really a vision for the future. It is going to take a lot of time to make this happen.”
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