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March 2010 Issue

Featured - Plans for Collaborative Research Park at Fort McPherson Moving Ahead

Plans for Collaborative Research Park at Fort McPherson Moving Ahead

The Board of Regents received an update at its March meeting on plans for the redevelopment of Fort McPherson following the closure of the South Atlanta Army base in September 2011 as part of the Base Realignment and Closure Act (BRAC).

Plans to create a community that includes a residential community, office space and an expansive research park in which the University System of Georgia would be a collaborative partner are moving forward, according to Jack C. Sprott, executive director of the McPherson Implementing Local Redevelopment Authority (MILRA). This is the legal entity created by the Georgia General Assembly to plan and execute the redevelopment.

Sprott told board members that the MILRA is having a master plan developed for what is envisioned as a 165-acre research park ¬¬– “neutral ground for both public and private research universities to collaborate in developing new products.”

“The six institutions in the Georgia Research Alliance (GRA) employ a total of 61 GRA Eminent Scholars – world-renowned scientists – who generate over $2 billion in research funding,” said Mike Cassidy, the independent, non-profit organization’s president and CEO. “The alliance engineers opportunities that have the potential to drive a substantial return on the state’s investment, and having space for collaboration between institutions has been the missing piece in our work – we envision this research park as a hub that will bring the GRA institutions together.” The GRA’s university partners include: Georgia Tech, Georgia State University, the University of Georgia, Medical College of Georgia, Emory University and Clark Atlanta University. Sprott and Cassidy anticipate that each of these institutions, along with the Centers for Disease Control and other colleges, will occupy labs and/or specialized centers and even classrooms at the new research park. There are also plans to provide science-and-math-focused educational opportunities for students from high school through those engaged in post-doctoral work.

Cassidy described to the regents plans for the creation of a Crossroads Institute for Global Health to support the many global health companies based in Georgia with labs for vaccine and drug development, space for clinical trials, labs to support start-up ventures and conference facilities.

“Fueling the launch of companies that create high-value jobs for Georgians is a big part of the GRA’s mission, and this is an opportunity to bring small industries to this area to incubate with the help of all the collaborating institutions that are going to be involved in this research park,” Cassidy said. “Job creation is definitely going to result.”

Sprott said the MILRA is hoping to renovate some of the existing buildings at Fort McPherson, particularly the massive Forces Command (FORSCOM) Headquarters Building. In the meantime, a series of zoning meetings related to the redevelopment plans has been held throughout March, and a master plan for the research park is being created.

Posted by Jason Steele on March 03, 2010
Published in: On Campus

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