September 23, 2011

Ceremony to mark research park’s growth

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A ceremony at the Southern Illinois Research Park at Southern Illinois University Carbondale on Tuesday, Sept. 27, will celebrate an expansion of the University’s support of research and business initiatives.

A ribbon cutting and groundbreaking are set for 3:30 p.m. to officially open a new entry road and mark the start of construction on a new building to house research park tenants.  They mark an expansion of the successful operations of the University’s research, innovation and business initiatives.

The ceremony, led by Chancellor Rita Cheng, will officially open the roadway connecting the Southern Illinois Research Park (SIRP) to the SIUC campus.  The 2005 Highway Transportation Act provided $1 million for design and construction of the interior roadway along U.S.Highway 51 linking the research park to the campus near Saluki Way.  The funding, acquired through the efforts of U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Belleville, was matched by University funding from the Small Business Incubator, the Vice Chancellor for Administration and the Vice Chancellor for Research. 

Hurst-Rosche Engineers, Inc. of Hillsboro, with Marion offices as well, handled the design work and E.T. Simonds Construction Co. of Carbondale was the general contractor for the construction project.  University officials will cut the ribbon to open the new, as yet unnamed, roadway.

The road offers two significant advantages, according to Kyle Harfst, executive director of the Southern Illinois Research Park and SIUC director of technology and enterprise development.  It opens the northern section of the research park for future development and it provides a more direct, alternate access to the research park from the campus.  Previously the only access was from Pleasant Hill Road.

The ceremony will also serve as the official groundbreaking for construction of a new building on the site.  The University received a $475,000 appropriation from the U.S. Small Business Administration, courtesy of the efforts of Costello and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Springfield, for preparation work at the site.  Asaturian, Eaton & Associates P.C. of Carbondale was the engineer while J & L Robinson Development and Construction Co. was the general contractor for the infrastructure development that included site preparations, extension of water and sewer lines and addressing parking area needs. 

The University is partnering with HBA Development of Carbondale for the actual building project that will bring a new 15,000-square-foot structure to the research park.  With construction beginning this fall, completion is set for summer 2012.  The building, east of the Dunn-Richmond Economic Development Center, will offer space to new and existing research park tenants.  University officials said the expansion and development of the research park, coupled with an increased emphasis on campus research, will expand the economic impact of the University on the region.

Harfst said the ongoing development of the park will help facilitate and encourage research and spin-off businesses from University research.  The university owns and manages the SIRP, home of the Dunn-Richmond Economic Development Center and its Small Business Incubator.  Adjacent is the multi-tenant One Enterprise Place.  The University owns the facility and the Southern Illinois Research Park Corp. manages it.  The new building will similarly house tenants developing, launching and expanding new businesses. 

The SIUC Office of Economic and Regional Development (OERD) is also located at SIRP.  It includes several programs and centers providing support to the SIRP, its tenants and clients throughout the region.  The OERD includes the Small Business Development Center, International Trade Center, Illinois Manufacturing Extension Center, Center for Rural Health and Social Service Development, Community and Business Services and the SIUC Small Business Incubator.  The SIRP operates with a staff of 138 full and part-time employees.