Branstad, Leath break ground at new economic hub at research park


Richard Martinez/Iowa State Dail

On Sept. 10, ISU President Steven Leath joined members of the Board of Regents, state representatives and Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Reynolds for the commemoration of funding for a new facility in the ISU Research Park.With federal, state and university funding, the research park now moves into its third phase of expansion with the inclusion of the Economic Development Core Facility.The project is expected to be completed in mid-2016.

Alex Hanson

Officials from Iowa State and the state of Iowa, including Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, broke ground for a new economic development facility at the ISU Research Park on Sept. 10.

The $12 million project, located just south of the current research park, will allow Iowa businesses and industries to work with Iowa State on research and allow the businesses to receive technology and business expertise.

A short groundbreaking event took place with officials at the construction site. Following the groundbreaking was a ceremony at the current research park, which included some speeches.

“The Economic Development Core facility will help us advance not only Iowa State’s economic enterprise, but it will have major impacts on our state, national and global economies.” Leath said.

During his speech, Leath also highlighted the current ISU Research Park, which is home to nearly 60 companies. He then spoke about expanding a partnership with Vermeer, a company that makes industrial and agricultural equipment.

“In 2012, Vermeer became the first Iowa-based manufacturing corporation to open an office at this research park,” Leath said. “The company’s objective was to have better access to our most in-demand economic development asset: our students. Since then, Vermeer has partnered on seven capstone projects, leveraging the skills of our students and our research strength.”

Vermeer will be building a new facility at the research park.

Reynolds spoke for the second time this week in Ames. Her brief remarks quickly highlighted the new facility to be built.

“With this new building and Iowa State’s presence in all 99 counties, individual Iowans have access to a one-stop shop to ISU’s expertise and assistance,” Reynolds said. “Whether it’s seeking insights on financing, business leadership, marketing strategy or other key business components. This new facility will help them start or expand their businesses.”

Branstad, who was also making his second appearance in Ames this week, made remarks during a ceremony following the official groundbreaking.

“We started small and now we’re really starting to see it take off. It’s exciting,” Branstad said. “From a recruiting standpoint, having a central building located here in the research park will greatly enhance the potential for the state of Iowa to attract and retain highly innovative and growing companies.”

Branstad also stressed that the economic hub will be a place where employees will want to work, which will then increase a company’s productivity and reduce the number of turnovers.

“This model has been highly successful in other parts of the county and I’m excited to see it implemented here in Iowa. In fact, it’s already providing results,” said Branstad on the partnership with Vermeer. “They understand that Iowa State is committed to public and private partnerships and working with home-grown Iowa companies.”

Bruce Rastetter, the Iowa Board of Regents president, was also in attendance at the ceremony.

“Any great research institution clearly needs a research park and the growth with that,” Rastetter said. “As you develop additional research and you translate that into companies and create those high-quality jobs in Iowa. That enrichment in the community with the student experience on internships, jobs and the ability to do research, apply it and make an impact.”

The new facility is expected to hold around 100 employees and will also have conference rooms and meeting space for several hundred people. It is expected to be completed and open by mid-2016.