May 24, 2007

Research park board elects officers

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. – The Southern Illinois Research Park Board of Directors elected officers during its recent annual meeting.

The new chairperson is Carbondale City Manager Jeff Doherty. John Koropchak, graduate dean and vice chancellor for research at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, is the vice chair, while Mike Kearney of Ameren Service Corp. is secretary and John Dosier, president of First Southern Bank, is treasurer. Kyle Harfst is interim executive director of the Southern Illinois Research Park (SIRP).

The research park is a non-profit organization and the SIU Board of Trustees selects the directors, including four from the University and eight from the community. Also serving as directors are: SIU President Glenn Poshard; John Dunn, interim SIUC chancellor; Donald Rice, interim provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs; Lee Roy Brandon, executive director of the Jackson County Business Development Corp.; Dennis Harmon of Verizon Corp.; Dr. Thomas J. Firestone, president and CEO of Southern Illinois Healthcare; Mary K. Moore, co-founder of the Center for Comprehensive Services Inc., retired; and Curtis Baird, CEO of SchoolCenter and Neon Internet. Donna Reynolds is recording secretary. The group also recognized special guest Samuel Goldman of the SIU Board of Trustees during its annual meeting.

Harfst said the research park, located at 150 E. Pleasant Hill Road and owned by the University, is the result of the efforts of the 1997 Research Park Task Force and the "Southern Illinois University Carbondale Research Park Plan" published in February 2000. The park is home to two facilities. The Dunn-Richmond Economic Development Center houses the Small Business Incubator program, and with 55,000 square feet, offers affordable rental space and technical assistance for business creation and expansion. The center is also home to SIUC's Office of Economic and Regional Development, and includes a computer lab, conference rooms and atrium. Harfst said there are 17 business entities, including 13 for-profits, in the University-owned and managed Small Business Incubator.

The other building in the research park is One Enterprise Place, which opened last year. Currently, five tenants fully occupy the 20,000-square-foot facility, Harfst said. Plans call for eventually constructing up to 12 buildings on the 45-acre site with an overall economic impact estimated at $40 million in new construction along with 1,200 jobs, creating a $40 million annual payroll. Currently, Harfst said there are about 160 employees on site representing the University and the private and public sectors.

Doherty noted the 100-percent occupancy of One Enterprise Place surpasses the board's goal of 80-percent occupancy by June 30, the end of the fiscal year.

SIUC will use $1 million in federal highway bill funding to build an internal roadway connecting the University campus via Saluki Drive to the research park. This will provide quicker, easier access than the current Pleasant Hill Road entrance offers and, more importantly, will better facilitate construction of new buildings and future development, Doherty said. Efforts are under way to secure the local matching funds for the 80/20 highway grant.

Doherty said the second goal is construction of a new building to complement the very successful One Enterprise Place. Research park officials hope to complete the road construction and building project within the next two to three years. But, he emphasized that every step forward will be carefully planned and executed in keeping with the third goal.

"We want to assure continued financial stability for the research park corporation," Doherty said.