ISU Research Park continues to expand


Korrie Bysted/Iowa State Daily

Construction is ongoing at the Research Park off of Airport road on Friday, May 15.

Eric Wirth

Traditionally, a town square is where a community gathers to engage in discussion, celebrate and generally enjoy each other’s company, and with the creation of a new town square-style development at the Iowa State University Research Park, there is call for celebration.

Sitting on a 183-acre swath of land that has nearly doubled Research Park in size, the town square development will be home to multi-use buildings which will house cafes, fitness centers and child care facilities.

Brent Willett is the executive director of the Cultivation Corridor Initiative, which aims to bring agriculture and bioscience jobs to central Iowa. Willitt said this addition to Research Park, and the amenities it holds, will help the businesses at the park bring in the most qualified employees.

“These are companies looking to recruit and retain the best and brightest,” Willett said.

One of these companies, Boehringer Ingelheim, is coming into the final stretch of construction of a 52,000 square-foot research and development facility. The building is on track to be completed by January 2016. The facility is part of phase two of development at the park, and the new town-square style development is part of the new phase three development, Willett said.

Phase three, which expands to the south of the current Research Park, is expected to create between 2,500 and 3,000 jobs within the next 10 to 15 years Willet said.

The new town square will house the Office of Economic Development and Industry Relations for Iowa State, the Cultivation Corridor’s offices and employee amenities, such as cafes and daycare facilities.

Alison Doyle, marketing manager for ISU Research Park, said that the need for expansion is due to large internal growth and a lack of space to bring in new businesses. Doyle said that the plans call for the economic development center to be housed in the center of the expansion with businesses surrounding it on all sides.

“We’re at a point of critical mass,” Doyle said in reference to the capacity of the park.

The expansion will not only create new buildings for business to take place in, but the ISU Research Park is in negotiations with Story County to section off part of the new development for a park as well as biking paths and trails Doyle said.

The expansion of the ISU Research Park correlates with momentum in the economy since the 2008 recession, and Doyle said that there is one thing about the park she can’t stress enough.

“There are good, high-paying jobs right here,” she said.