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University, regional and local leaders explore research park expansion

Pittsburg State University is working with community and regional leaders in an effort to expand the research park next to PSU’s Tyler Research Center. The university hosted more than 60 leaders on its campus Thursday during a special conference led by experts from the Association of University Research Parks.

Pittsburg State University is working with community and regional leaders in an effort to expand the research park next to PSU’s Tyler Research Center. The university hosted more than 60 leaders on its campus Thursday during a special conference led by experts from the Association of University Research Parks.

“We want people to have a better understanding of what an active research park can mean for our region,” said Shawn Naccarato, executive director of PSU’s Center for Innovation and Business Development. “A research park is an attractive starting point for entrepreneurs who may have innovative products but don’t yet have the capital to build a facility in which to produce them. The end result is increased jobs, higher starting salaries and an increased standard of living within our communities.”

The day-long workshop included sessions led by directors of research parks at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Texas State University. It was made possible by a recent grant from the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIS). The $330,000 grant, one of only 12 to be granted, will allow the university and the City of Pittsburg to develop a detailed plan for the construction of new or expanded facilities at the current research park.

“We know that you don’t get anything done unless you have a plan,” said Jay Byers, assistant city manager. “This grant allows us to create a road map for future growth. Once we have it, we can engage our community and fully utilize our research park.”

An outside consultant will be used to help develop the plan, which will be done before the end of 2016. So what happens after that? Well, officials are hoping that by having a plan and strong community support, they’ll be able to attract funding that will allow the start of construction.

“A lot of the EDA grants require a detailed plan,” said Byers. “They want to know that you’ve taken the time to fully study the situation and that you have community support.”

The research park project is one of many recent successes experienced by the university and city. Pittsburg State recently completed more than $65 million worth of capital improvements and the City of Pittsburg has attracted several new restaurants and smaller businesses. The economic activity is bringing new attention to Pittsburg.

“People see that we’re moving forward and they want to play a role,” said Byers. “We have a great city but by working together (with private industry and the university) we’re making it even more dynamic. The research park can be a tremendous engine for us. If it’s done right, it will propel our entire region into a growth pattern.”

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