The Douglas County Commission continued its support of the Bioscience and Technology Business Center on Wednesday with a $1 million commitment to expand the building.
The money is in addition to the $750,0000 the commission agreed to contribute several years ago that helped fund the first phase of the building. The $7.5 million life science and technology incubator opened in August 2010 and is 100 percent full. The nine companies housed there are a mixture of small startups, early stage technology companies and corporations looking to coordinate research with KU.
“We always expected to do phase two. One of things we didn’t expect was coming back in the second operating year and telling you there is a need for phase two, which is pretty remarkable,” said LaVerne Epp, executive chairman of the center.
The request is two years ahead of schedule, but Bioscience and Technology Business Center President Matt McClorey said they have already received interest from businesses that would help fill the second phase of the building.
“From what we are hearing from companies, there seems to be a demand for more space,” McClorey said.
In a letter to the county commissioners, McClorey and Epp noted that seven prospective companies have expressed interest in more than 10,000 square feet of office and lab space.
The second phase of the project is expected to cost about $10 million and would increase the existing 20,000-square-foot building by 30,000 square feet, enough to accommodate 10 to 25 new companies. The hope is to break ground by this fall, McClorey said.
The agency plans to make similar funding requests to the city of Lawrence, KU, Kansas University Endowment Association and Kansas Bioscience Authority.
Douglas County has agreed to make an annual contribution of $100,000 for the next 10 years to help fund the project. The money will come out of the county’s economic development fund, which is given $350,000 each year.
On Wednesday, the commissioners approved the first $100,000 allotment.
“This is the single most promising economic development program we have had in this community,” Commissioner Jim Flory said. “It’s not just good economics in the long term but an improvement on the quality of life in Douglas County.”