Research park begins to take shape

Ruth Brown

Ruth Brown

Research companies may soon be hurrying to move to the new Innovation Campus research park project in Brookings.

The campus is made up of 125 acres of state-owned land that will soon be used for research and businesses. It is expected that by the end of 2009 there may be anywhere from four to six buildings, and following this, another two to three buildings per year, said Van Fishback, chair of the Growth Partnership and president and CEO of Fishback Financial Corporation.

The actual project will eventually be made up of 50 to 60 buildings within the next 20 to 30 years. There are currently 32 parcels that can be developed. The buildings will be a mix of university, government and industry-based.

The Innovation Campus structures are where research companies can be located. This includes everything from agriculture to engineering and nursing. Many research companies are also attracted to being located at the largest research university in South Dakota, said Teresa McKnight, CEO and executive director for the project.

The project is a long-term investment of $200 million and will employ more than 3,000 people with average salaries estimated at $65,000 per year. It will house more than 60 companies.

“Research parks are unique in that they have covenants, conditions and restrictions,” said McKnight. “It means the sole purpose of the research park is to create a research park to stimulate tech-based economic development in South Dakota.”

These businesses coming to the Innovation Campus will give Brookings a nice economic boost. Brookings will benefit from the businesses and researchers that move to Brookings as they buy houses and put their children into the school system, said McKnight.

Research companies will also be there to offer job opportunities to students.

“They want the best and brightest minds coming out of the university to come and work for their company,” McKnight said. “They are creating job opportunities for students and promoting them to stay in South Dakota and possibly go back to SDSU to further their education.”

The Innovation Campus is a way of coming out and applying what students learned to real-world, hands- on experience, McKnight said.

The Innovation Campus project is currently working with the Brookings Transportation Board to set up a shuttle service to get around not only the Innovation Campus but to get students back and forth between the Innovation Campus and the main university campus.

Another goal of the Innovation Campus is to provide a layout that connects plazas, walkways and recreational space as well as coffee shops, restaurants and a fitness center.

“Some of the buildings on [the new] campus will also have coffee shops and sandwich shops implemented into the inside of the buildings,” said McKnight.

Employees and professionals who work at the Innovation Campus will have housing close to the campus. On 25th Avenue, near Lowes, construction teams are moving ground to build corporate apartments. The bottom level of the three level apartment building will include a swimming pool and fitness center and will eventually expand.

The research park is a very aesthetically pleasing, professional environment and allows the campus to entice companies into the settings. The landscaping at the park was designed with the help of some of SDSU’s landscape architecture students and the interior was designed with interior design students’ help.

The entrance to the Innovation Campus off of 22nd Avenue will connect a traffic roundabout. The entrance is named Miller Park Way, after former SDSU President Peggy Gordon Miller.

Community partners include SDSU, the Brookings Economic Development Corporation, the City of Brookings, the Brookings Chamber of Commerce, the SDSU Foundation and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

“This is a significant collaborative partnership,” said Fishback. “It’s not just one person involved in putting together the project.”

Fishback said this is a defining moment for Brookings. The Innovation Campus will eventually help create good paying jobs for young people today.

#1.882187:3820017530.jpg:Innovation.Campus.COURTESY.jpg:The Innovation Center is the main hub of the park, located west of the SDSU main campus along 22nd Avenue.:Courtesy Photo