Congressman Bucshon, EDA, State, County officials formally open $8.8 million WestGate Academy
Odon (Indiana) –Realizing a multi-year vision, federal, state and county officials joined together October 16 to formally open the 64,000 square-foot, two-story WestGate Academy in the state-certified WestGate @ Crane Technology Park. “This new WestGate Academy will provide a number of critically important strategic activities for the region, including staging technology conferences, symposia, and training activities,” said Kent Parisien, president of the WestGate Authority.
The Academy is expected to directly support the $2 billion Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Crane Division of NAVSEA and the $14 million Battery Innovation Center (BIC) now under construction in the park, and will include space for institutional academic engagement, a business incubator, and technology transfer activities, he continued.
“With the opening of this facility to attract major university research faculty and conduct national technology conferences, we collectively take one step closer to achieving a global leadership position in energy and technology development for Indiana and the region,” said Congressman Larry Bucshon. “With the opening of I-69 next to NSWC Crane and WestGate, this Academy will contribute to the expansion and economic growth of the region.”
The facility is expected to have significant regional impact on job creation, workforce development and economic diversification. “About a year and a half ago, when we first broke ground for this facility, Gov. Mitch Daniels said: ‘The WestGate Academy facility is a long-awaited development that will serve as an economic catalyst for the region,’ and today we are seeing the beginning of the profound impact of that critical economic catalyst,” said Parisien.
The WestGate Authority retained Stimulus Engineering to manage the 64,000 sq. ft. facility and coordinate the attraction and administration of technology training activities and conferences associated with NSWC Crane and commercial defense companies.
“We have already received considerable interest from NSWC Crane and defense companies in the region to use the WestGate Academy for a variety of meetings and conferences,” said Charles Selby, executive director for WestGate. “With at least one new hotel soon to support the park, we expect to shortly see major conferences and gatherings in the facility.”
As part of the total construction cost of $8.8 million, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) offered the WestGate @ Crane Authority up to $1 million from the Technology Development Grant Fund as a local match to a U.S. Economic Development Administration grant commitment of $6.6 million. Additional local grants and funding were offered through the WestGate Authority, according to Greg Jones, executive director of the Southern Indiana Development Commission (SIDC), who directed the EDA grant process for WestGate.The EDA was represented by Jeanette Tamayo, EDA Regional Director, from the federal administration’s Chicago office.
WestGate now features more than a quarter of a million square feet in new construction and has attracted more than $75 million in public and private investments. To date the park has created more than 400 new jobs with total employment nearing 1,000 among more than 20 defense and other companies in the park.
The WestGate Academy is expected to create an additional 250 jobs over time, attracting a total of $11 million in new investments and generating a salary base of about $13 million, according to Jones.
The WestGate Academy was designed by DEA, Inc. in Indianapolis and constructed by Krempp Construction in Jasper, Indiana. Construction oversight was provided Runnebohm Construction of Shelbyville, Indiana. Gigabit fiber connectivity is provided by Smithville, Indiana’s largest private telecommunications company.
Discussions about direct university engagement in the Academy have already begun, according to Parisien.
Visit the WestGate Academy Conferencing and Training Center website at: http://www.westgate-academy.com/