Unique Partnership Creates Region's First Research Park

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Oct. 23, 2009

Former General Tire facility will house Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative

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Media Contact: Frank Raczkiewicz, (254) 710-1964

WACO, Texas (Oct. 23, 2009) - A symbolic shift from 20th century manufacturing to 21st century technology took place Oct. 23 with the announcement of plans to turn a long-shuttered manufacturing plant into a modern research collaborative.

A group of state, county and city governments and organizations and higher educational institutions in Central Texas announced the creation of the Central Texas Technology and Research Park, and the park's first project, the Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative (BRIC) to be housed in the former General Tire facility on South Loop Drive in Waco.

The announcement was made at a news conference held in the Jim Kronzer Appellate Advocacy Classroom and Courtroom at the Baylor Law School.

The Central Texas Technology and Research Park has been established to develop, promote and market science and engineering technologies, university research and advanced technology training and workforce development. Those collaborating in the project include Baylor University, Texas State Technical College, McLennan Community College, McLennan County, City of Waco, City of Bellmead, Waco-McLennan County Economic Development Corporation, Bellmead Economic Development Corporation, Waco Industrial Foundation, Heart of Texas Council of Governments and the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce.

BRIC has been established to provide graduate research space for Baylor's School of Engineering and Computer Science and for select Baylor interdisciplinary research centers and institutes. It also will provide space for advanced technology training and workforce development for Texas State Technical College and McLennan Community College programs; space for anchor industry partners already located in or newly recruited to McLennan County; and space for joint research symposia and educational meetings.

Participating in the public announcement were:

• Texas Sen. Kip Averitt

• Texas Rep. Jim Dunnam

• Texas Rep. Charles "Doc" Anderson

• Ray Meadows, McLennan County Commissioners Court

• Mayor Virginia DuPuy of Waco

• Dary Stone, Baylor University Board of Regents Chairman

• Dr. David Garland, Baylor University Interim President

• Dr. Elizabeth Davis, Baylor University Interim Provost

• Dr. Truell Hyde, Baylor University Vice Provost for Research

• Dr. Elton Stuckly, Texas State Technical College-Waco President

• Bill Clifton, Waco Industrial Foundation

• Clifton Robinson, Waco business and civic leader

Robinson and his family and H. Bland Cromwell helped make the park a reality by offering the General Tire facility to Baylor to re-purpose as it saw fit for the benefit for the university and the community. Baylor's commitment to Waco and McLennan County led it and its community partners to consider ways in which Baylor could grow its research enterprise in a collaborative manner and have a positive impact on regional economic development.

Funding for BRIC thus far has been generated through state appropriation and Baylor commitment. Averitt and Dunnam spearheaded legislation in the 81st session of the Texas Legislature to appropriate $10 million to Texas State Technical College for "capital expenditures and renovations for collaborative research projects" in partnership with Baylor. Baylor's Board of Regents has committed another $10 million to support the initial renovation phase of the effort.

These funds are for the first renovation stage of the General Tire facility. A recent study by architectural consultants Perkins and Will indicates that the building can be renovated into a simple shell ready to house research in approximately 15-18 months. Phase I will consist of:

• Demolition of existing walls and steel structure that remained from the old plant operations

• Restoration and repair of the facility's existing brick veneer

• Removal of the existing roof and installation of a new one

• Replacement of all windows

• Installation of new internal stairways and elevators

• Construction of a new atrium/lobby to clearly define the building entrance

• Installation of new parking lots, signage and landscaping

Additional investments by Baylor and its regional partners will be necessary to provide for the full renovation and operation of the 300,000 square foot facility. With additional funding, a second phase of development will begin to complete space for research, workforce training and industry anchor space.

The General Tire facility will be transferred to a non-profit corporation with Baylor managing the facility. An Advisory Board, made up of representatives from each of the collaborating organizations, has been established to advise BRIC in its continued development.

General Tire originally built the facility in the 1940s to meet the demand for tire manufacturing during World War II. Subsequent additions were completed in the 1950s and 1970s on the 21-acre site. The plant closed in 1986.

With the creation of the Central Texas Technology and Research Park and BRIC, Baylor and its partners join approximately 170 other research parks in North America. A recent study commissioned by the Association of University Research Parks, and completed by the Batelle Memorial Institute, found that university research parks in the U.S. and Canada encompass more than 47,000 acres; include 124 million square feet; and employ more than 300,000 workers. Of greatest significance is that every single job in a research park generates an average of 2.57 jobs outside the park.

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