For the BioHio Research Park on OARDC’s campus that means that the work that began more than five years ago, when the city of Wooster and The Ohio State University teamed up with the Ohio Department of Development to begin the process of developing an out-of-date building into business incubator space and raw farmland into one of the country’s premier ag-bioscience research parks, is moving into its second phase.
During Wooster City Council’s Oct. 17 meeting, council members voted unanimously to authorize city officials to file an application for grant funding under the same program utilized to renovate Pounden Hall and to improve Secrest Road – the Department of Development’s Job Ready Sites Grant program.
“We are all aware that one of the most important factors for economic growth in any city, county or region is job ready sites or available buildings for infrastructure,” said Councilman Jon Ansel in introducing the measure for council’s consideration.
With the flexible business incubator space already operational and upgraded utilities and a roadway leading into the park in place, the second phase of the development of the BioHio Research Park would include extending utilities and roads into sites within the park.
According to Ansel, grant funding under the Ohio Job Ready Sites Program “would offset those costs that would traditionally be incurred by outside speculative commercial investment, which is very difficult money to obtain these days.”
Ansel noted that the city is seeking $3.2 million in grant funding from the state for the project. Those funds would be matched dollar for dollar by The Ohio State University, bringing the project total to $6.4 million.
“The city of Wooster is not committing any financial support for this project. All matching funds will be provided by The Ohio State University,” said Ansel, noting that the city is “doing some of the legwork, the heavy lifting, the blocking and tackling to secure this funding.
“I commend the city administration, the mayor and the staff for these kinds of initiatives,” said Ansel of the second phase of the development of BioHio.
“It’s visionary - it’s proactive - it’s all of the positive things that prepare us for opportunities as they emerge in the future,” said Ansel.
“We hear a lot about how Wooster and Wayne County achieves such high ratings in terms of its economic development performance. This is just one reason – the proactiveness and the vision to not sit back and wait for things to happen but make things happen,” Ansel continued.
As a number of councilmen noted, BioHio provides a unique platform to capitalize on one of the region’s strengths while providing capabilities and expertise not available in traditional research parks.
“This is a very unique business park,” said Councilman Jeff Steiner. “There are very few if any to my knowledge in the state of Ohio that has research, R&D and business incubators in the agricultural community.”
It also aligns perfectly with the changing agricultural business landscape.
Councilman David Silvestri noted that as he has watched the evolution taking place at OARDC he has been impressed “to see how closely they are working with present day problems, present day issues, opportunities for high revenue company ventures.
“They have moved a whole lot closer to that practical level. This isn’t science kind of divorced from real life. This is right in the fray,” said Silvestri.
Published: October 25, 2011