Feature Article from The Whitewater Press - Holiday / Winter 2010 www.thewhitewaterpress.com
By Kevin Brunner, Whitewater City Manager
UPDATE: City and University Partnering on Developing Technology Park and Innovation Center
The City of Whitewater along with its Community Development Authority (CDA) is working very closely with the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater on developing the new Whitewater University Technology Park and its first building, the Whitewater Innovation Center. What began as a feasibility study done by Dr. David Ward of Northstar Economics and MSA Associates in the summer of 2008, has quickly evolved into a beehive of construction activity this summer and fall due to the diligent efforts of many community and university officials. Shortly after a commitment was signed by the City and University in December, 2008 to build this new business park, the Whitewater Technology Park Board of Directors was appointed, with UW-Whitewater Chancellor Dr. Dick Telfer as Board President, to lead the efforts.
The following mission statement was then drafted to guide the development of the park: “The Whitewater University Technology Park’s mission is to create and foster durable businesses and jobs through a close alignment of UW-W’s research and educational competencies and the resources of the City of Whitewater. The Park serves as a foundation for a diversified and robust regional economy through the attraction of new residents, utilization of UW-W faculty, staff and student expertise and the retention of alumni talent.”
A 135 acre site immediately south of the existing Whitewater Business Park and encompassing the City’s Moraine View Park has been selected for the Park. The site was already owned by the City and CDA and has a number of natural features that lend themselves well to the green and sustainable building and development covenants that have been adopted for the Park. Early on, Whitewater’s efforts to develop the University Technology Park caught the eye of the Federal Economic Development Administration (EDA) which found its mission and objectives to be very consistent with national economic development goals. After submitting a lengthy federal application, in September of 2009, the EDA awarded the City and University a $4.7 million grant to assist with financing the necessary projects for the Park’s infrastructure as well as to construct the Whitewater Innovation Center.
Three projects are currently nearing completion for the Technology Park’s development: 1) the extension of Starin Road from Whitewater Creek to STH 59 (to provide a new east-west collector street to serve the City as well as to provide a better direct connection between the University campus and the new Park); 2) improvements to Howard Road, E. Main Street and Greenway Court as well as utility extensions and a multi-use trail system to serve the new Park, and 3) the construction of the new Whitewater Innovation Center on Innovation Drive.
The Whitewater Innovation Center will be completed by the end this year with its first tenants scheduled to move in January, 2011. The Cooperative Education Services Agency, District 2, currently located in Milton, Wisconsin will be an anchor tenant with its 200 plus employees and the Jefferson Eastern Dane County Interactive Network (JEDI), a provider of distance learning courses to area school districts, will also be moving into the Innovation Center when it opens. In addition, there are at least two private start-up businesses that are expected to sign leases in the near future to be in this facility when it opens next year.
The Whitewater Innovation Center will be one of the first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Efficiency Design) Silver buildings in our region. The Center will incorporate geothermal heating and cooling and solar energy panels as well as a whole host of other green technologies to be a model for other buildings that will be constructed in the future at the Whitewater University Technology Park.