Research park to aim for high-tech ventures

Monday, October 15, 2001

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University's Board of Trustees recently accepted a low bid of $395,673 from S.M. Burkey Construction Co. of Murphysboro for infrastructure at the Southern Illinois Research Park, clearing the way for an official groundbreaking ceremony this fall.

The park, which will go up adjacent to the Dunn-Richmond Economic Development Center on the Carbondale campus, hopes to attract high-tech ventures to deep Southern Illinois.

Trustees also adopted a series of covenants for the research park. The covenants will ensure compatibility with other elements of the campus while setting high standards for design, construction, safety and maintenance.

The covenants also limit the kinds of activities that can take place within the park and create a procedure for approval of tenant facilities. The highest priority will go to endeavors requiring a high degree of scientific input such as research, education, training and corporate facilities, prototype production facilities and corporate and divisional headquarters. Activities that would support such enterprises would also be allowed.

Phase I of the development includes clearing and grading the site, construction of a detention pond and fountain, building an entrance sign and installation of sanitary sewers and water lines.

Chancellor Walter Wendler said $500,000 in Illinois FIRST funds will pay for the infrastructure work. That grant was awarded in July 2000.

"The university and the city of Carbondale are on the brink of creating a first-class research park that will pay economic dividends to the entire region for years to come," Wendler said.

The total estimated cost of Phase 1, including $80,000 in architectural/engineering fees and $395,673 in construction costs, stands at $475,673, leaving a $24,327 contingency fund on the project.

Raymond Lenzi, SIU-C associate chancellor for economic and regional development, said he hopes for an October groundbreaking. Some infrastructure work could take place this fall, but most will likely be completed next spring and early summer.

"Phase I infrastructure work and attractive new signage will make it clear that the university, city and the region are in the high-tech business park development game," said Lenzi, who will oversee the operation. "It will put us on the map in high-tech, research and knowledge-based enterprise development."

Southern Illinois Research Park Board Chairman Jack Langowski said a marketing plan for the research park is being developed.

In June 2000, Verizon provided communication backbone for the venture by installing an $800,000 on-site fiber-optic switching center.

When fully developed, the park will house about 236,000 square feet in 12 buildings. Total project cost is estimated at $40 million. University officials say as many as 75 new businesses might one day be located in the park, and employing from 800 to 1,200 people.

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