Breaking ground for innovation

Oct 26, 2007

Kettering will construct a new Science & Technology Incubator building to expand the area's culture of entrepreneurship and support economic re-development.

The economic re-development of Flint gained momentum Oct. 25 when Kettering University broke ground for a facility dedicated to developing new science and technology opportunities in the region.

Kettering President Stan Liberty announced that the University will construct an approximately 12,000-square-foot, multi-tenant facility called the Kettering University Science and Technology Incubator Building. "This new building will support scientific and technologically-based 'start-up' companies that need dedicated laboratory space during their first three or four years," he said. The $2.7 million facility is being made possible by support from the U.S. Department of Commerce, State of Michigan funds through the City of Flint, and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

Prospective companies for this new incubator will come from three sources:

  • "spinouts" from regional universities, their faculty members and student entrepreneurs;
  • regional scientific and technological entrepreneurial start-ups and
  • entrepreneurial start-up companies currently outside Michigan but wish to locate.

"The mission of Kettering's new Science and Technology Incubator is to provide resources and opportunities to encourage and grow high-tech entrepreneurship as a core strategy for the economic development in mid-Michigan," Liberty explained. "This mission also supports Kettering University's direction for the development of an entrepreneurship culture through not only educational programs but also faculty and student spin-off commercialization opportunities."

Construction is slated for property just east of the corner of Chevrolet Avenue and Bluff Street. "We will build this new facility along Bluff Street, in an empty lot that once was a parking lot for General Motor's 'Chevy In The Hole.' It is a striking example of a step into a new future for the region," Liberty said.

Liberty served as master of ceremonies during a ceremonial groundbreaking event on Bluff Street. Four speakers joined in the festivities.

Robin Bush, EDA Chicago Regional office, chief of the Investment Analysis and Management Team, said the EDA is always pleased to see success gained by its grant recipients and partners. "The mission of EDA is to help our partners across the nation create wealth and minimize poverty by promoting a favorable business environment to attract private capital investment and jobs through world-class capacity-building, planning, infrastructure, research grants and strategic initiatives."

Roselyn Zator, Michigan Economic Development Corp., manager of SmartZones and Business Accelerators, said the new initiative will support Kettering's, Flint's and Michigan's commitment to high tech entrepreneurship and build a high-tech culture. "The State of Michigan and the MEDC are well aware of the impact that high-tech entrepreneurship and a high technology culture has on the economic re-development of a region. Our goal is the diversity Michigan's economy."

Neal Hegarty, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation program officer, said the Foundation and the University have a long history of working together. "Through the years, we have worked closely together in support of the educational outcomes for Kettering students, but also in support of the University's community impact. (That) role is an important component of Flint's economic and education infrastructure."

Tim Herman, CEO of the Genesee Regional Chamber of Commerce, offered his congratulations to everyone who played a role in making this important facility a reality. "As you look around today, you can see the remnants of our past. Manufacturing science and technology are core American strengths and a core Kettering strength. Congratulations, and consider the Genesee Regional Chamber your partner for progress."

Liberty said the new building will include the following features:

  • 10 dedicated research laboratory suites (each approximately 500-square-feet with the ability to be customized to the tenant needs),
  • 10 furnished executive offices available,
  • Shared equipment and support facilities,
  • A conference room with high-tech audio/video systems,
  • A cafe vending and seating area for clients,
  • Electronic building security, video surveillance and access control and
  • Telephone and Internet connectivity throughout.

Construction will begin in Spring 2008 with a tentative completion date of Spring 2009.

Written by Patricia Mroczek