Flagstaff has been awarded a federal grant for a new 25k s.f. structure at the Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology (NACET), the first of three Phase 2 buildings on their McMillan Mesa campus:
Previous render of NACET campus build-out.
Grant for $4M to fund second incubator in Flagstaff
by JOE FERGUSON
Arizona Daily Sun
September 14, 2012
Flagstaff municipal officials have used some creative grantsmanship linked to the Schultz fire and flood two years ago to jump-start the second phase of the business incubator complex atop McMillan. The city applied for a federal grant aimed at helping cities cope with the aftermath of major natural disasters -- in this case, the fire that scorched 15,000 acres and the subsequent flooding in Timberline and Fernwood. To meet the criteria, the city designed the new incubator building with a secure meeting area that could double as a backup emergency response center if the main law enforcement facility on Sawmill Road is somehow compromised. The gambit worked. On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced a $4 million award to the city of Flagstaff for a new, 25,000-square-foot building next door to the existing incubator, the Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology.
City officials are calling the proposed building, which will include wet and dry laboratories, additional office space and a 5,000-square-foot area for light manufacturing, "an accelerator" that will target graduating start-ups of the business incubator who still need space in town.
"This project will provide much-needed wet and dry lab research space for Tier 2 companies, which currently does not exist in the region," said Stacey Button, the head of the city's Economic Vitality program. The business incubator was honored not only once, but twice on Thursday. Gov. Jan Brewer gave NACET, Flagstaff and Coconino County an award for its Project Ignite project. The project leveraged existing infrastructure at NAU to accelerate technology commercialization, worked to help students find internships and educational opportunities and created the incubator's Arizona Core Labs project.
FIRST OF THREE NEW BUILDINGS
The "accelerator" would be the first of three new buildings in Phase 2 planned for the site, with a total of 75,000 square feet dedicated to a science and technology park. The city has identified a total of four funding sources for the entire $7.76 million project, leveraging funding from the state Commerce Authority, Northern Arizona University and a 2004 voter-approved bond for improvements to the nearby U.S. Geological Survey campus. One of the key advantages of adding a building would be to give "graduating" NACET clients a larger space suitable for building prototypes and small-scale manufacturing developed while in the incubator.
The Flagstaff City Council still needs to accept the $4 million grant before work on the accelerator would begin. Currently, plans call for construction of the first building to start in early 2014.
The project is expected to create an estimated 300 jobs. NACET has created a total of 203 jobs since it opened its doors in 2008, reporting it has raised $70 million in private capital and the average wage of companies working with the incubator paying $75,000. The city has been looking since 2007 to develop the 9-acre strip of land near Cedar Avenue and Gemini Drive adjacent to the incubator. In 2010, the slow economy caused the initial developer of the planned accelerator, Valley-based The Plaza Companies, to abandon the project. Then, in 2011, Flagstaff-based Loven Construction, which took over the project said it would not move forward, also citing the sluggish economy.