(By Nick Schneider) [Order this photo]
The Battery Innovation Center, Greene County's first major tenant in the WestGate Technology Park, officially cut its opening ribbon early Friday afternoon.
The ribbon cutting signals the start of what local officials believe will be remarkable economic growth fostered by this unique public-private partnership that has harnessed top notch research talent from academia, the military and industry to develop a truly unique business operation.
(By Nick Schneider )
The welcome ceremony started at the WestGate Academy with lunch and remarks, then attendees boarded chartered buses to be transported to the BIC, located about a mile away on County Road 800S, a short distance from intersection of U.S. 231 and Interstate 69, for the ribbon cutting and tours of its lab facilities.
The job of the BIC is to create a center of excellence that will meet the research and development, rapid prototyping and contract manufacturing needs of industry, academic and military customers, according to BIC President Charles LaSota.
The efforts of Greene County official who agreed to 'back' $15.6 million in economic development bonds was lauded by LaSota, Ellsperman and Skillman in their respective remarks.
"The Battery Innovation Center here is a unique operation. It is like nothing else that is being done in the country today," LaSota said in pointing out that it is a collaboration of government labs, local government, state government, federal government, academia ---- all pulling resources and talents together creating an opportunity for research and development of critical energy systems.
LaSorta said the project's support from Greene County was critical.
"They (Greene County) stepped forth and said not only do we want to see economic development in our state, we want to be a part of it, we want to sponsor it and we want to help fund it," LaSorta stated."Without Greene County none of this would have been possible."
Lt. Governor Elsperman lauded the foresight of the Greene County Council and Commissioners for their financial support of the BIC project.
"This is really a great day for Greene County because they really stepped up and commanded their own future. You provided the land. You put in the infrastructure and utility services and you boldly provided almost $16 million in funding...this would not have happened without Greene County and we thank you so much," Ellsperman stated.
Skillman, who was Lt. Governor when ground was broken for the BIC last year, called the day a celebration of a business that will bring more work, more jobs to the region.
Congressman Buschon talked about the federal importance of the work that will be done at the BIC, not only for military purposes, but in the private sector to improve battery capabilities.
"I want to give a special shout out to Greene County. They have officials who displayed such courage and leadership in their support for the BIC. It is certainly a great model for other regions of our state," Skillman said. "We are on the leading edge of innovation."
Col. Alan Pratt, commander at NWSC Crane, called the ribbon-cutting a great day for the region and he talked about the importance of the BIC helping to develop better, longer lasting and lighter batteries for the military infantry on the battlefields throughout the world.
Pratt noted that during a recent walk through at the new lab facility he experienced a 'wow moment' and came away very impressed with the technological capability that the BIC will provide the military.
Greene County Council President Ed Cullison told the gathering he was pleased the council stepped up to help financially to bring this facility filled with new technology to become a reality.
More than a dozen corporate members are ready to partner for battery research and development projects at the 32,000 square feet BIC, including: AeroVironment, Concurrent Technologies Corporation (CTC), EaglePicher, Eaton Corporation, Ivy Tech Community College, MEGTEC, Penn State University,Notre Dame University, Purdue University, Renewz, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), Stimulus Engineering, and Technical Services Corporation (TSC).
The building was designed by American Structurepoint and built by Keystone Construction Corporation.
The BIC will initially employ 10 scientists, engineers and technicians.