Nearly everybody has listened of California’s Silicon Valley and North Carolina’s famed Research Triangle Park. But other innovative investigate communities can be seen in probably any segment of a country. They might not be as vast or obvious as Silicon Valley and a Research Triangle; though they, too, are assisting pave a approach to tomorrow’s high-tech future.
West Virginia has not one, though dual investigate comforts that are sensitively building new technologies that have already altered a ways we live and work — and will continue to do so in a future.
The dual comforts have really opposite histories. In South Charleston, a West Virginia Regional Technology Park has been fashioned from a former universe investigate domicile of former chemical hulk Union Carbide Corporation.
And usually south of Fairmont stands a I-79 Technology Park, that has captivated a cluster of sovereign agencies that make it one of a nation’s tip record centers.
“For a final 50 years, record has driven some-more than 50 percent of a U.S. economy and will continue to do so for a subsequent 50 years,” pronounced Rusty Kruzelock, Ph.D., executive executive and CEO of a Regional Technology Park. “Our idea here is to emanate technology-based jobs that will assistance variegate and grow West Virginia’s economy.”
Union Carbide combined a Technical Center in a years 1947-48. From a inception, it was a core of creation and new ideas.
“Over 30,000 patents came out of a Tech Center,” Kruzelock said. “Memory froth was invented here. The Eveready battery came from here, as did Glad products, Simonize automobile polish and so many other things — even a fuel for a Apollo space missions. That creation and creativity is still here. It’s in a dedicated people who work here. That’s a genuine sorcery here.”
In 2001, a Dow Chemical Company acquired Union Carbide and changed many of a investigate and enlargement work to other locations, such as Michigan and Texas. In 2010, Dow donated a former Union Carbide Technical Center to a state of West Virginia. The center, now designated a West Virginia Regional Technology Park, is administered by a state Higher Education Policy Commission.
The 258-acre South Charleston campus has 16 vital buildings and a series of smaller structures. In all, it has about 950,000 block feet of offices, laboratories and prolongation facilities.
“You can do it all right here,” pronounced Kruzelock. “You can build a chemical routine here on a dais tip in a chemical lab. Then we can scale it adult to a subsequent turn in a tiny commander plant here. Next, from a blurb enlargement perspective, we can take it to a incomparable facility. And afterwards we can even pierce a routine adult to low-level production. There are really few places in a United States where we can take a specialty chemical from dais tip to low-level production, all in a same location.”
Kruzelock remarkable that when Union Carbide designed a investigate center, “they didn’t know what their subsequent product was going to be, so they designed a core with a lot of coherence that still can be seen here today.”
“This Tech Park is all about holding good ideas, good concepts and bringing them to a marketplace,” he said. “We’re doing that in 3 ways: First, there’s no quicker approach to emanate jobs in West Virginia than by assisting a existent Tech Park companies grow. Roughly one-fifth of a enlargement during a park is inner expansion. That’s a short-term strategy.
“The second approach is some-more of a mid-term strategy. It’s to attract record companies to West Virginia. And we do that by display them how we can assistance them grow. We’ve had some good success in that regard. In a final 4 years given I’ve been here, we’ve left from approximately 444 employees to a stream 867 and we are on lane to accommodate a idea of carrying 1,000 employees by 2020.
“Third, a longer-term plan is to build an entrepreneurial ecosystem — a infrastructure required to assistance immature people with good ideas build record companies here in West Virginia. We wish to assistance build companies that are started here in West Virginia grow in West Virginia, and, importantly, sojourn in West Virginia. We don’t wish to see companies start and grow here, and afterwards pierce elsewhere.”
“We like to cruise ourselves as a commercialization arm of a state’s mercantile enlargement effort,” combined Howard Swint, genuine estate and communications manager during a Tech Park.
“Our core comes from Union Carbide. It’s chemicals and energy,” pronounced Kruzelock. “But we’re some-more than that. We’re modernized materials. Right now, one of a labs is creation a pure polymer that has a same visual properties as glass. It’s really clever and might even have anti-ballistic capabilities. They can make it firm or flexible, depending on what it’s going to be used for. With a Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI) here on a campus, we’re into modernized manufacturing. With companies like N3, we now have information scientists. We even have some biotechnology going on here.”
Mid-Atlantic Technology, Research and Innovation Center
(MATRIC), an eccentric nonprofit organization, is one of a Tech Park’s core tenants.In a 4 years after Dow Chemical acquired a Union Carbide Tech Center, some-more than 150 doctorate-level researchers and approximately 900 other degreed staff were let go. Many of those world-class scientists came together to form MATRIC so they could continue their research. Today, MATRIC is a vital creation partner to attention with business on 6 continents.
“MATRIC,” Kruzelock said, “uses chemists and engineers to make products that are not usually technically sound though also economically sound. Many of a former Union Carbide researchers who founded MATRIC are still during work in a labs, though it’s recruited a series of gifted immature people as well.”
Steven B. Hedrick recalls how tender he was when he saw a scholarship proof during a Union Carbide Tech Center when he toured a core as a boy. Hedrick went on to acquire a grade in chemical engineering during West Point. After portion in a Army, he worked in a chemical industry. Today, as MATRIC boss and CEO, he works in a same building that preoccupied him as a child.
MATRIC occupies approximately 35 worldly laboratories in Building 740 on a Tech Park campus. Those labs support a far-reaching operation of initial and enlargement activities in chemical technology.
A handful of other places do what MATRIC does but, as Hedrick notes, those other places are comparison and larger. While it might be tiny in size, MATRIC has built an considerable customer list that includes hulk companies like Dow, DuPont and ExxonMobil, along with U.S. supervision agencies and chemical record startups.
The Tech Park’s newest tenant, N3, is a record formed business-to-business sales and selling company. “They now have 145 hires and are on lane to strech their idea of 300,” Kruzelock said.
“N3 has gifted extensive enlargement any year, due in partial to a loyalty of a employees to pushing genuine income formula for a clients,” N3 CEO Jeff Laue pronounced in an Aug. 28, 2017, news discussion announcing a company’s preference to locate during a Tech Park.
“The West Virginia Regional Technology Park is a ideal fit for N3 and a flourishing business — a vicinity to glorious colleges and universities, and being located in a heart of a Kanawha Valley, will assistance us partisan a talent we need to offer a clients,” pronounced Laue. “Being partial of a flourishing series of innovators located during a Tech Park is an combined bonus. We’re vehement for a destiny here.”
Describing him as “an impossibly innovative and brazen seeking individual,” Kruzelock credited Douglas Tate, boss and CEO of Alpha Technologies Inc., with “adding a new dimension to a Tech Park.”
After appropriation a former Union Carbide information core during a Tech Park, Tate is now building 35 miles of high-speed fiber-optic wire joining Charleston, Kanawha City and Southern Charleston with a information center. “The fiber-optic loop will yield Charleston area businesses with high-speed internet and information capabilities,” Kruzelock said. “Next, Tate is formulation to implement a 50-mile loop between Charleston and Huntington and open a information core in Huntington.”
Swint remarkable that a state’s designed enlargement of Jefferson Road, approaching to get underway in 2019, could infer profitable to a Tech Park. “We are operative closely with a West Virginia Division of Highways, a city of South Charleston and a state Economic Development Office to make them wakeful of a opportunities a plan presents. We wish to get during slightest one new opening as good as some-more serviceable acreage with a chain of additional fill from a highway work.”
While a Tech Park in South Charleston dates behind to a late 1940s, when Union Carbide built a record and investigate center, a I-79 Technology Park is distant newer.Located usually south of Fairmont, a I-79 Technology Park was innate in a early 1990s interjection to then-U.S. Rep. Alan B. Mollohan, R-W.Va., and a late U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., Recognizing a flourishing purpose record would play in a future, Mollohan and Byrd helped drive sovereign appropriation and sovereign contracts toward a state-of-the-art record trickery furnished with a latest in infrastructure and support.
The park provides mission-critical support for some of a sovereign government’s largest agencies, including NASA and a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The plan got a initial supervision reside in 1993, when NASA non-stop a Independent Verification and Validation Facility during a park. The trickery confirms a opening of some of NASA’s vital module systems. Its construction was followed by other sovereign facilities, including a belligerent hire for a NOAA satellite program, that provides 99 percent of a meridian information for a Western Hemisphere, and NOAA’s Environmental Security Computing Center, one of a many modernized supercomputing centers in a nation.
The I-79 Technology Park also is home to a series of private companies and supervision contractors, including RD programs run by Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Time Warner Cable and Computer Sciences Corp.
FirstEnergy’s West Virginia Operations Headquarters is located during a park, as is Mon Power’s application operations and a informal delivery control center. The park is also home to Pierpont Community and Technical College and a North Central Technology Center.
The park’s Robert H. Mollohan Research Center has approximately 248,000 block feet of bureau and assembly space. Completed in 2006, it contains a 160-seat auditorium with dermatitis bedrooms and a vast muster hall.
Approximately 1,250 employees work during a park, that has been a customer of a sovereign government’s process of locating new operations outward a swarming Washington, D.C., civil area though still within a comparatively brief travelling stretch from Washington.
“Our idea is to emanate an ecosystem centered on sovereign operations from a Washington, D.C., area that do a estimable volume of contracting,” pronounced Jim Estep, boss and CEO of a High Technology Foundation, that grown and operates a park. “When we attract those activities here, contractors cluster around those operations and emanate jobs.”
The park offers plots of land during no cost to supervision agencies that guarantee to pierce in poignant executive business. Estep pronounced it will cruise identical deals with private companies if they’re a good fit.
“If you’re vast adequate and can attract poignant business, we’ll demeanour during charity land during no cost, or a really good deal,” he said. “Our idea is to ceaselessly attract companies and organizations that fit with what we have here and supplement to a colourful RD village we’ve built.”
The High Tech Foundation spent many of 2017 sealed in a authorised conflict per a behind amends of a bank loan. But eventually a brawl was resolved and a box dismissed, enabling a substructure to ensue with Phase III of a designed expansion, saved by a $3.9 million sovereign grant.
According to information posted on a foundation’s website, a initial territory of a Phase III enlargement includes construction of some-more than 1,500 feet of roadway, designation of H2O and cesspool lines, subterraneous electric lines and fiber-optic wire “to offer 3 destiny sovereign anchor building pads and a new sell enlargement area.” Plans call for a initial territory of a Phase III enlargement to be finished by tumble 2019.