Spokane Journal of Business

University of Idaho refines Post Falls plans

Research park would go in near Riverbend; Jacklin willdonate site, sell other parcels

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The University of Idaho is moving forward with plans to help develop a research and training park on land near Riverbend Commerce Park, in Post Falls, says university President Bob Hoover.

Hoover says that if the university satisfactorily addresses 12 concerns the Idaho State Board of Education has raised about the project, the school will get state approval to go ahead with the plans. UI is scheduled to respond to those concerns at the boards April meeting.

The university wants to create the research park initially on 28 acres of a 100-acre site that is owned by Jacklin Seed Co., of Post Falls, and would be managed jointly by the university and Jacklin, Hoover says.

Jacklin would donate the 28 acres to the university, he says, and would market the remaining land to companies. For every three acres Jacklin was able to sell, it would donate an additional acre in the site to the university, Hoover says.

Hoover says the school envisions building a 40,000-square-foot structure at the site. He doesnt know when construction would begin on the building.

The university would like to locate a graduate engineering program, an engineering management program, an office of its water-resources institute, a manufacturing extension office, cooperative extension offices, and alumni, development, and fund-raising offices there.

The Moscow-based school would use about 10,000 square feet of floor space in the building, and would lease out the remaining space to business tenants, he says. We think we have a number of interesting leads, he says.

The university says several companies have expressed interest in moving to or opening a new office in the park, including Packet Engines Inc., the Spokane-based developer of computer networking technology; Advanced Input Devices, a Coeur dAlene-based maker of custom keyboards; and Phillips Plastics Corp., a Wisconsin plastics maker that has a production center at Riverbend.

Packet Engines CEO Bernard Daines confirms that he has spoken with the university several times over the past year or so about the possibility of Packet moving to the park. However, he says, Packet has made no commitments to do so and has been disappointed by the amount of time it has taken to get the proposed project going.

Advanced Input Devices and Phillips Plastics couldnt be reached for comment about their purported interest in the park.

Hoover says the university hasnt determined how many school employees would work at the research park, how many students would attend classes there, how much the first educational building at the park would cost, or how the building would be paid for. Some of that financial analysis is among the 12 points the Idaho Board of Education wants clarified, he says.

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