WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Wichita State officials are negotiating with several technology companies to create an innovation campus with a goal of bringing new technology jobs to Wichita in the future.
University president John Bardo told faculty and students Monday that the innovation campus would be a four-building complex on the southeast corner of the campus, The Wichita Eagle reported (http://bit.ly/MYwSXS ).
John Tomblin, an interim vice president for research and technology transfer, said the university is negotiating with companies from Wichita, the U.S. and outside the country, although he and Bardo declined to name the companies. Tomblin said the negotiations are going well.
“We’ve been talking to companies for about a year now,” he said. “And I am very optimistic that we will have very good news on a regular basis from now on.”
If the project is successful, the innovation campus would add hundreds of jobs, either from new companies or Wichita companies expanding their workforces.
Bardo said the project is crucial to making Wichita’s economy less dependent on aviation companies. He said he hopes to have the first tenant in the new building by 2016.
The public-private partnerships would provide benefits to both sides, said Andy Schlapp, Wichita State’s executive director of government relations.
“The companies get to use our research, our researchers, our labs to make products more efficient and more globally competitive,” he said. “And they get to have a workforce with our students, but with on-the-job training. At the end of a student’s four years of school, they can go to work for the company, and the company says, ‘Hey, we don’t have to spend three years of on-the-job training with this person.’”
Gov. Sam Brownback has recommended that this year’s Legislature spend an additional $2 million in capital improvement money to help build the innovation campus and lawmakers have not cut the item from the state budget it is working on, Bardo said.
Other than $2 million Brownback recommended, Bardo plans to use some state money sent to Wichita State every year as part of the Engineering Expansion Grant, designed to help the university bring in more engineering students, he said.
Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, http://www.kansas.com