A $4.7 million federal Economic Development Administration grant was awarded Thursday to the Whitewater University Technology Park to help fund the Innovation Center and park improvements.
The Innovation Center is designed to foster the development of new business-based research conducted by University of Wisconsin-Whitewater faculty and staff and their business partners and is expected to create several hundred jobs in the future.
"The Whitewater University Technology Park will be a great addition to the City of Whitewater and the UW-Whitewater campus," Chancellor Richard Telfer said. "This joint project will give our faculty and staff and students yet another way to expand the reach of the campus into the region. The research and development that will take place at the Whitewater University Technology Park will have a positive impact on the future economic growth of southeastern Wisconsin. UW-Whitewater is pleased to be a key player in this project."
The total cost of developing the Whitewater University Technology Park is about $10 million. The remainder of the funding will come from the Whitewater Community Development Authority (CDA), revenue bonding and other sources. The building will be owned by the CDA with UW-Whitewater providing the intellectual capital.
"The City of Whitewater is very excited about the partnership it has forged with the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in the development of the Whitewater University Technology Park and planned Whitewater Innovation Center, which will serve as a focal point for this park," said Kevin Brunner, Whitewater city manager. "The EDA grant will allow us to expedite our schedule for the construction of the Technology Park and Whitewater Innovation Center as well as for the extension of Starin Road to better link the UW-Whitewater campus and the Technology Park site. These projects will bring new jobs to our community as well as significantly benefit the future economic development of our entire region."
Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin helped the University Technology Park with the grant and stressed the importance of the various governmental agencies working together to spur economic growth.
"This is great news for the City of Whitewater and the UW-W campus," Baldwin said. "The Innovation Center will bring new jobs and opportunities to the community. When the federal and local government and 'town and gown' work in partnership, it yields benefits for decades to come."
The Wisconsin Department of Commerce provided technical assistance in facilitating the grant development.
"I'm pleased that we could help UW-Whitewater access EDA grant funds to promote the development of technology businesses in the Whitewater area," said Department of Commerce Secretary Richard J. Leinenkugel.
Senator Russ Feingold lauded the grant as well. "This is great news for UW-Whitewater, people in southeastern Wisconsin and our state's economy," Feingold said. "Not only will this grant help create green jobs, it will also improve the business environment in Whitewater, helping the area attract private investment and improve economic development opportunities in Wisconsin."
UW-Whitewater already is the home of the Wisconsin Innovation Service Center, an agency that provides consultation and preliminary market research to manufacturers, technology businesses and independent inventors. Its director, Ronald "Bud" Gayhart, has been instrumental in helping develop plans for the technology park, Telfer said.
"The Innovation Center is indicative of the mutually beneficial relationship of the city with the University and the cooperative efforts of those leaders," Rep. Kim Hixson said. "I am excited that the U.S. Department of Commerce has acknowledged the importance of the project to both the UW-Whitewater campus and the Whitewater community."
The federal grant allows the Technology Park Board to begin construction of the Innovation Center later this year.
"Once the Whitewater University Technology Park is operational I believe we will see new businesses begin to develop quickly. I expect that, in 10 or 15 years, we will look at what has been accomplished by this partnership and simply be amazed," Telfer said.
The Whitewater University Technology Park will be located on 125 acres bordered by Corporate Drive, Howard Road, Bluff Road and Moraine View Park on the city's east side.
Telfer said the technology park will be built "green" to complement existing wetlands and parklands on the site.
The current Whitewater Business Park was developed in 1986 and is one of the largest office and industrial parks in southern Wisconsin. It covers 540 acres with room for expansion, and the 20 businesses now located in the park employ about 2,300 persons.
For more information go to whitewatertechpark.org