Building on our High Tech Know-How While Making Home for R&D
Wednesday August 01, 2007
If you're going to invest a chunk of money into an R&D Park, it helps to know what you're doing. Well beyond the learning curve in Blount County, Tennessee a thriving, successful research and development centre is reaching capacity and paving the way for a new R&D park set to break ground in early 2008. It took a few years, some trial-and-error and a lot of hard work to get it right.
Business is quietly booming in the Stock Creek Development Centre that sits along the banks of a broad waterway that feeds the Tennessee River in the rolling hills beneath Brickyard Mountain. While it opened with much fanfare in 1984 with a visit from then Governor Lamar Alexander, it took a few years and valuable lessons to get the park to the place it enjoys today.
As the newest member of the highly regarded East Tennessee Technology Corridor, Stock Creek was poised to take the high-tech world by storm. It was to be the southern anchor for the yet-to-be built Pellissippi Parkway that would link Oak Ridge and its research firms to Knox and Blount Counties, and would provide a much needed connection to the regional airport. Stock Creek boasted all the amenities a high tech company would need with underground utilities, perfect building conditions, excellent access to transportation and a beautiful site along the creek.
The first tenant, Metzeler Research Center set the stage for other R&D firms to follow, and a few did just that. Development dwindled in the early 1990's and community leaders began calling for change. Stock Creek was opened to prospective industrial clients in hopes of reenergizing the local economy. While the industrial clients brought revenue and jobs to the community, they challenged the park infrastructure, especially the electrical load. Engineers had to re-tool the park's electrical system to meet the much higher demands of manufacturing facilities.
By the mid 90's the Blount Industrial Development Board steered the park back to its mission of serving the R&D business community. The efforts ultimately attracted a number of companies such as Microbial Insights, Southern Impact Research Center, Universal Sanitizers, Keisler Engineering, Siemens, and Nisus Corporation. Its popularity now secure, Stock Creek is nearing capacity with only four building sites remaining.
Meanwhile, the Pellissippi Parkway was extended to improve transportation for Stock Creek and the surrounding community. The popularity of the area launched planning for a second R&D park nearby aptly named the Pellissippi Research Centre. Molecular Pathology already announcing it will be the anchor tenant with a 70,000 square feet laboratory with long range plans of hiring up to 500 PhD, MD and Master's level employees.
The new centre builds on lessons learned from Stock Creek. First, it will stay true to its mission with an intergovernmental agreement that ensures the Pellissippi Research Centre caters to R&D firms only. It will be supported by a two-story retail and dining corridor settled along a riverwalk. Mixed-use space will be available for residential and professional office and all will be linked by an expansive pedestrian walkway. Like Stock Creek, the Pellissippi Research Centre is easily accessible to Knoxville and Oak Ridge via the Pellissippi Parkway and it is less than 10 minutes from the regional airport.
When it comes to R&D, Blount County has been around the block with Stock Creek and figured out how to do it well. A lot of experience, a dose of our own R&D and a commitment to build the next best thing, guarantee a successful future for the Pellissippi Research Centre and the companies who make it their home.