UM Research Park to break ground

By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal

OXFORD – Business tenants could be in the first building in the University of Mississippi Research Park next summer.
A location is being prepared just off Hathorn Road, one-third mile west of Coliseum Drive.
“I’d say sometime in the spring construction will likely start,” said Syd Spain, the research park’s executive director. He hopes for a completion date in Summer 2011.
The research park is envisioned eventually as labs, offices and other facilities on more than 200 acres of land south of Highway 6/278.
For now, though, the focus is constructing the $12 million “gateway building” and filling it with companies that can use university research, yielding both lease fees and licensing fees.
“It’s a way that we can capitalize on our intellectual abilities and people here at Ole Miss to develop products and companies that will be of benefit to our region,” Spain said.
Most tenants are expected to come from four groups: natural products and pharmaceuticals, governmental and military contract work, information technology and information systems, and geospatial information systems.
The initial research park building was designed with several environmentally friendly features – recharging outlets for electric cars, geothermal heating and cooling, among others.
In the end, the research park is envisioned as an income producer for the university and a source of jobs for the area.
“We want to fund our educational activities, and research is an excellent way to make that happen, because it’s positive to most people and less controversial than, say, raising tuition,” Spain said.
So that ground can be broken for the research park building, the university’s Medicinal Plant Garden is being relocated a few hundred yards to the west.
“We worked out an agreement with them to relocate them, provide them with better facilities and put the research park building up here,” Spain said.
The Medicinal Plant Garden stores seeds and maintains populations of “just about every medicinal plant anyone can name,” said Don Stanford, technical services manager for the university’s National Center for Natural Products Research.
“We’re looking to complete the construction in September,” he said.
Plans for the new garden include a lab-office complex, greenhouses, shade house, demonstration beds, terraced fields and a pond for aquatic medicinals.
Like the research park building, the new medicinal garden will be earth friendly. Porous parking will reduce storm water runoff, roofs will collect irrigation water, most lighting will be solar and trellised walls will reduce cooling costs.
“They’re going to be some of the greenest buildings on campus,” Stanford said.
Contact Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or errol.castens@djournal.com.