The Spokane Intercollegiate Research and Technology Institutes application for a $3 million U.S. Economic Development Administration grant to build a wet-lab facility here has been denied, at least for now.
It is final that it wont be funded this year, says Lloyd Kirry, an economic-development representative with the EDAs regional office in Seattle. Its a great project, and Im really confident that it will be considered next year.
The proposed facility, which would cost $6 million to build and would house biotechnology- and biomedical-related businesses, will be considered for funding again next spring, Kirry says.
Patrick Jones, director of business development at SIRTI, says that organization had been very much counting on receiving the funds in October or November, soon after the start of fiscal year 2004.
If the money isnt disbursed until March that could create a wrinkle, basically a delay in SIRTIs plans, he says.
SIRTI has issued a request for proposal for architectural and engineering services, Jones says. The deadline for proposals is next week, and SIRTI plans to have that team selected by mid-October, he says. The facility was expected to be available for occupancy by the late fall of 2004, Jones says.
If the funds cant be accessed until March that would be a very ambitious timeline, to put it mildly, he says.
In the current fiscal year, the EDA has granted funds to two other Washington projects instead: $4 million for an overpass realignment project in Tacoma and $2.3 million for infrastructure improvements in Moses Lake.
Those projects beat the SIRTI proposal and four others for fiscal year 2003 money, he says. Together, the seven applications were made for $13 million in EDA funds, which is $8 million more than the average amount Washington state projects receive each year, Kirry says.
SIRTIs application will roll over into the next fiscal year automatically, he says.
It should have a good shot at the next fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1, Kirry says. Its typically in spring or summer that we get final word on whats approved and whats not.
As proposed, the 35,000-square-foot wet-lab facility would be built near downtown on a site east of Pine Street and south of Main Avenue. It would include 12,000 square feet of wet-lab space and 8,000 square feet of space that could be converted into wet labs in the future. The remainder of the building would be comprised of common areas and meeting rooms.
Wet-lab space, usually defined as having sinks, a deionized water supply, ventilation hoods, and other specialized components, typically is used by biomedical and biotechnology businesses for product research and development.
Demand for wet-lab space in Spokane is said to be high, and its believe that constructing more of it could help attract or incubate businesses here.
SIRTI demonstrated its commitment to the wet-lab project in July when its board pledged up to $250,000 to operate the facility during its first three years. The board of a separate entity, called the SIRTI Foundation, arranged to buy the property for the structure and take out a $2.2 million loan to build it. The WSU Foundation, which owns the land on which SIRTI hopes to build the facility, has said it plans to sell the property to the SIRTI Foundation.
In the projects the EDA agreed to fund this year, the overpass to be built in Tacoma will carry D Street there over railroad tracks used by Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Co., loosening up a bottleneck area for vehicle traffic, and linking the Port of Tacoma to an industrial portion of that city, Kirry says.
The Grant County Economic Development Council applied this year for its $2.3 million EDA grant for an infrastructure project, says Caroline Spira, marketing planner for that organization.
That project includes improving, building, and installing streets, curbs, sidewalks, and lighting, and building water and wastewater services in an area north of Route 17 in Moses Lake.
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