Friday, October 30, 2009

First Centre for Business and Research tenants expected by end of the year

The transformation of an 86-year-old former tobacco warehouse at 1016 Allen St. into the high-tech Centre for Business and Research was originally scheduled to be completed by midsummer.

But Malcolm Bryant, the building's owner, said last week that he still expects the massive project to be completed before the end of the year.

"I would hope to have at least one, if not three, tenants moved in by the end of the year," Bryant said.

Alisha Hardison, owner of Dalisha's Desserts, won the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp.'s first eMerging Ventures Challenge. The business plan competition's prizes included a $15,000 investment award and a free six-month lease on office space in the Centre for Business and Research.

And Hollison Technologies, a local startup biotech company, has already leased space in the building.

Madison Silvert, vice president of the EDC and executive director of its eMerging Ventures Center for Innovation, said Friday that he's working with a third company that's likely to lease space in the center.

But if that company commits, he said, "They probably won't be ready to move in until after the first of the year."

Plans for the building call for research space for biotech companies as well as office space for a "business accelerator," a place where new businesses can rent as much space as they need until they're ready to move out on their own.

Seven universities and colleges will be affiliated with the Owensboro center when it opens.

The list includes the University of Kentucky, University of Louisville, Western Kentucky University, Murray State University, Brescia University, Kentucky Wesleyan College and Owensboro Community & Technical College.

Nick Brake, EDC president, said he's still optimistic that the grant, which had been expected in September, will come through.

"It has to be announced by a member of Congress," he said.

The money, which would be used to install "wet labs" in the Centre for Business and Research, would come from federal funds designated for communities affected by Hurricane Ike and its remnants in September 2008.

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