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Governor, trustees to break ground for research park March 2

Becky Mabry, News Editor
(217) 244-1072

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Gov. George Ryan, the University of Illinois Board of Trustees and UI administrators and faculty members will celebrate the beginning of the campus’s Research Park with a groundbreaking ceremony beginning at 12:30 p.m. Thursday (March 2) at the corner of First Street and St. Mary’s Road in Champaign.

The Research Park is a long-dreamed-of link between the university and corporations of all sizes and kinds, from small fledgling companies to major corporations like Motorola Inc.

“This link between the university and the corporate world is important for both the research conducted here and the university’s mission of service,” Chancellor Michael Aiken said.

“This Research Park will bring the fruits of the university to the general public as the innovations and achievements accomplished here flow into the marketplace,” he said. “Our faculty and students will benefit from the commercialization of their ideas and the close interaction between the university and the corporate sector.  The economic benefit to Champaign-Urbana and the state will be significant.”

Motorola Inc. is finishing a lease agreement with the UI for a 72,000 square-foot building planned for the corner of St. Mary’s Road and First Street, according to Tony Waldrop, interim vice chancellor for research at the UI.

Another Fortune 500 company is expected to shortly announce that it will make a commitment to join the UI Research Park, Waldrop said.  The UI has received substantial commitment from other companies that wish to locate within the park as well, he said.

It’s an exciting start for a major campus initiative, Waldrop said.

“The university has long discussed the possibility of having this research park, and has been planning for it rather intensely the past year,” Waldrop said.  “Given the outstanding research that goes on at the university, it’s amazing we did not reach this point earlier.  We’re excited that plans are moving forward rapidly with a number of potential national corporations that have expressed interest.”

 The long-term vision for the Research Park is that it will extend from First Street south on St. Mary’s Road to Windsor Road.  It will have at least one incubator facility to serve the needs of new start-up companies.  Funds for such a building have been included in Gov. Ryan’s budget proposal this spring, Waldrop said.

In addition, it will offer medium-sized facilities for the small companies that have outgrown space in the incubator facility.  There also will be multi-tenant buildings, as well as large facilities for corporations that want to have close ties to the research being undertaken by the university’s faculty and students, according to Waldrop.

William R. Schowalter, the dean of the UI College of Engineering, said he’s delighted to see the Park become reality.

“It is certainly the beginning of a partnership that we’ve sought for a long time between the university and community,” Schowalter said.  “It will attract the kind of economic development here that will be good for the community and essential for the university.  And we’re pleased that community leaders and the university have come together in this way to produce something that’s essential to the future of both.”

Those expected to speak or participate in the ceremony include Ryan; UI President James J. Stukel; Chancellor Michael Aiken; Merle Gilmore, executive vice president, Motorola Inc.; board of trustees chair William D. Engelbrecht; and trustee Kenneth D. Schmidt.