Virtual construction

Governor Branstad, officials break ground for EAI building


Daily Staff Writer

After nearly a year of negotiations and some financial scrambling, the

official ground breaking of the new Engineering Animation, Inc.

headquarters was a success Wednesday.

Governor Branstad came to Ames to help with the ceremony at the Iowa

State Research Park.

The governor told Iowans that he wants to keep Iowa industry expanding

and looking to the future. The state will eliminate property tax on all new

equipment for the new EAI corporate headquarters, he said.

“This company has created jobs that would keep more of our talented

students in Iowa once they graduate.” We will gain much more in jobs and

people coming to Ames than we will lose in taxes, Branstad said. He pointed

out that 67 percent of EAI’s staff members are ISU graduates.

“EAI is a profitable, successful company getting worldwide recognition.

We are especially proud that with all the offers they decided to stay here

in Ames,” said Branstad.

EAI began as an idea in 1988 of two ISU professors and two ISU graduate

students in mechanical engineering. Since then, it has grown into a

nationwide company with offices in New York and Chicago. The company

employs 192 people and plans to hire 130 more in the next several years,

said Meg Miericke, communications coordinator for EAI.

“EAI is truly a 1990’s success story for Iowa,” said George Burnett,

interim dean of engineering. He added that the company’s annual sales of $5

million is expected to double this year.

Earlier this year, EAI sought help from the state and the city of Ames

to allow them to continue their expansion and stay in Iowa. Since that time

EAI has received a $450,000 loan, and for every job they create $3,000 of

it will be forgiven. Also, it received a zero interest $150,000 loan for

five years to help keep the company in Iowa.

The company designs advanced graphics for clear communication. “We

explain complex and technical information in a way that is easy for people

to understand,” Miericke said.

One of their most notable works was a 3-D animated reconstruction of

the Federal Building in Oklahoma City. EAI also uses animation with

scientific software to accurately explain expert testimony in the

courtroom, Miericke said. The group was even asked to animate the sequence

of events before the Simpson/Goldman murders.

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