UI Research park to get street extensions

UI Research park to get street extensions

CHAMPAIGN – Look for several new streets to criss-cross the University of Illinois Research Park in a few years.

The university expects $6.8 million in state and federal grants for extending Fourth Street south to Windsor Road, Hazelwood Drive east to Fourth Street and Gerty Drive east to Fourth Street, said Bruce Walden, a director in the UI's Office of Capital Programs and Real Estate Services.

"This opens up 100 acres of frontage in the research park," he said.

A $533,000 federal grant should pay for design work on the street extensions next year, with construction possibly beginning in 2011, he said.

Walden told the Champaign County Economic Development Corp.'s board of directors on Thursday that the university expects to bring the matter before the Champaign City Council soon.

In other business

Company coming to research park. A company listed on the Nasdaq exchange has taken a 15-year lease on a new building in the park, said Laura Frerichs, the park's associate director.

The company plans to employ 25 at an engineering center in the park. Altogether, the company employs about 6,000, Frerichs said.

Group seeks to retain companies. John Dimit, president of the economic development corporation, said his staff has been in touch with Kraft officials about the planned closing of the ACH Foods facility in Champaign.

The ACH Foods plant is just south of the Kraft plant, and Dimit said the company is interested in how the closure will affect Kraft's supply chain and how the property will be reused.

Dimit said his office has been working to retain two other firms in Champaign County – one that employs "a couple hundred" and the other fewer than 10. Both are expected to decide in the next nine months whether they might consolidate elsewhere. Neither is "chasing incentives," he said.

20 going on Washington trip. Fifteen area residents have signed up for a Champaign County Chamber of Commerce-sponsored trip to Washington, D.C., this month to make federal officials aware of local priorities. Five others plan to travel separately and join them there.

Dimit said the delegation will stress three priorities: the extension of Olympian Drive east to U.S. 45 in Urbana; a high-speed rail project that would link Chicago and St. Louis by way of Champaign-Urbana, and a "green schools" initiative.

The delegation may also support an alternative energy institute at the UI, he said.

Delta Connection using regional jet. As of this week, Delta Connection has begun using a regional jet, rather than a turboprop, on its first morning flight to Detroit out of Willard Airport in Savoy, Walden said.

Service to Detroit used to be provided by Northwest Airlink, the commuter service affiliated with Northwest Airlines. But after Delta Air Lines acquired Northwest, the local flights were rebranded as Delta Connection flights.

Speakers announced for annual meeting. Gary Durack of iCyt Mission Technology and Quesnell Hartman of EpiWorks will be the featured speakers for the economic development corporation's annual meeting Oct. 22 at the Alice Campbell Alumni Center on the UI campus.