Note: This story appears in the Friday, Aug. 2 newspaper on Page A1.
Ohio University has been awarded a $1.15 million federal grant for upgrades to the OU Innovation Center, a business incubator located on West State Street in Athens.
The project will focus on upgrading the building’s infrastructure, including constructing a new biotechnology wet lab and light manufacturing space, air filtration improvements and access control improvements. Also, the funding will be used to expand virtual technology conferencing capacity and HVAC upgrades.
Ohio University will reportedly provide around $288,000 in matching funds.
The improvements are expected to eventually create 100 jobs. Tanya Conrath, associate director of the Innovation Center, said the jobs number is based on the past history of the center.
Conrath said office space will be converted into the biotechnology lab and the light manufacturing space. She said there has been a need for manufacturing space among some of the center’s client companies.
“What we’ve done is accommodate them the best we can with what we have,” Conrath said.
She said the center has seven biotech labs, and they have been full for at least the past five years. Some of that lab space will be freed up when RXQ Compounding completes its move to the company’s new facility in Albany, but the space won’t be empty for long.
“We’ve already got two other companies lined up for those spaces,” Conrath said.
Conrath did not have a specific timetable for work to begin, but said it will be “as soon as possible.”
Announcement of the $1.15 million grant came Wednesday from the U.S. Department of Commerce and it is being provided under the Assistance to Coal Communities program that is intended to help areas impacted by the declining use of coal.
Awarding of the grant was praised by U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Upper Arlington).