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 Business Incubator 



Develop a business incubator in collaboration the Butler County Development Corporation and the SRU Foundation.(AA/UA)
(1) Request state funding to start a business incubator connected with Slippery Rock University;
(2) Partner with the Butler County Development Corporation to secure support for a business incubator.

(1)Received $1.5 million from Governor for Slippery  Rock Technology Park
(2)Butler County Development Corporation has signed contract of support with Slippery Rock University Foundation.
A Phase One Environmental Assessment of the property was conducted and completed by Melius & Hockenberry Environmental Services, Inc.  The assessment concluded that major environmental issues do not exist on the property.  A Preliminary Subsurface Investigation was conducted and completed by Construction Engineers Consultants, Inc. to determine stratigraphy and pertinent physical properties of the soils, rocks, and groundwater conditions.  This information will be used to provide general recommendations for the site development.  Gateway Engineers, Inc. conducted and completed a Boundary, Topographic, and Utility Survey of the property.  The final plan submitted details existing planimetric and topographic features as well as the boundary lines of the property. The Slippery Rock University Foundation, Inc. has contracted with WTW Architects for Master Planning Services that will provide recommendations for development of the property.
Slippery Rock University Foundation, Inc. is constructing a road and beginning infrastructure improvements to the property; the College of Business at Slippery Rock University is designing curriculum and planning staff hires.

The School of Business received a PASSHE sponsored grant in the amount of $90,246.50 to conduct planning and feasibility work for the Slippery Rock Business Incubator, renamed Innovation Center to better reflect its purpose. The three-year grant runs from 6/1/2008 through 5/31/2011. Dr. John Misner is the Project Director of the grant. In the first year of the grant, Misner will: research best practices, visit universities with successful incubators, form an Advisory Board, assess the level of commercially viable research on the SRU campus, conduct focus groups with local entrepreneurs, write the business and strategic plan for the venture, form and meet with a review team consisting of representatives from nearby county community development organizations, contribute to the design of the incubator building, and integrate an entrepreneurship program into the incubator activities. WTW Architects have developed a site plan for the Center and is assisting with the development of bid documents for infrastructure development. Permits for road access development were received from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation; the base of the access road is completed. The School of Business was successful in hiring three faculty members with entrepreneurship experience. A faculty member will be responsible for curriculum development of a minor in entrepreneurship.

The business incubator, termed the “Business Innovation Center” is progressing nicely although there are two notable changes.  WTW Architects were replaced by Rothchild Doyno Collaborative who produced a design better suited to the needs and requirements of the center.  Dr. John Misner who was serving as Project Director of the grant left the university as of June 1st and was replaced by a new director, Dr. Richard C. Grimm.  Dr. Misner completed preliminary research on business incubator success factors, community needs, and available resources.  He also developed the initial curriculum for a certificate program in entrepreneurship.  Dr. Misner also held an elevator pitch competition that was very successful.  Dr. Grimm has completed a review of Dr. Misner’s work and progress.  Dr. Grimm has produced drafts of vision and mission statements that are currently under review by stakeholder and focus groups.  He is also developing a formal business plan and strategic plan for the center with expected completion in August.  Dr. Grimm will also visit university linked business incubators over the summer to access their programs and provide input into the design of the facilities, organizational structure, and educational program.  A website for the center is planned along with promotional events to create awareness of the innovation center and to help foster an entrepreneurial culture on campus.  Dr. Grimm will offer a series of elevator pitch competitions with top ranked teams eligible to enter a year-end business plan competition with cash prizes and possible eligibility as a tenant in the innovation center.  Dr. Grimm will also apply for two additional grants to help facilitate the development of the center and an entrepreneurial culture on campus.  Infrastructure design for the entire parcel of land completed and submitted to municipal and regulatory agencies for review and approval.  Preliminary approval received from municipalities.  Final approval anticipated in September, 2009.  A traffic survey and study (including roadway entrance and turning lane design) was completed and submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for review and approval.  Additionally, a 7.5 acre tract of the parcel was leased to Butler Health Systems for the development of a medical facility that will significantly enhance the property.  Slippery Rock University Foundation, Inc. in June, 2009 approved preliminary design of the Butler Health System 30,000 square foot facility.  Declaration of Restrictive Covenants was developed for tenants of the parcel.  A market study was initiated to determine feasibility of developing senior living facilities on the parcel. 

The year presented a number of opportunities and challenges to the Slippery Rock University Business Innovation Center.  The economic crisis hit home with PASSHE asking all universities in its system to examine ways to cut costs to meet projected budget shortfalls.  The President’s Office had to direct attention to dealing with the challenges of doing more with less which temporarily diverted time away from many important initiatives such as BIC.  In addition, delays in PENDOT approval for requested infrastructure modifications related to development of a new road leading to BIC further set back progress.  It is now estimated that the BIC will be completed in December 2011 as opposed to December 2010.  In response to these delays, Dr. Grimm had to modify various aspects of the BIC business and strategic plans. President Smith asked School of Business Dean, Dr. Bruce Russell and Dr. Grimm to help create a workshop to generate ideas for the BIC and to identify key champions for serving on advisory committees and providing financial support.  The workshop, "Building for Innovation" was attended by more than forty Business and Community individuals and generated additional information for development of BIC's strategic plan. Some results of Dr. Grimm's feasibility study suggest modifications to former feasibility study director, Dr. Misner's original projections and strategies.  Dr. Grimm's research indicated that more groundwork needs to take place before SRU can produce a critical mass of tenants for the BIC.  Dr. Grimm also identified a need to assist established regional businesses who often find it difficult to address many of the complex problems they face.  It was determined that the BIC could address this problem by providing services that integrate the human resources of SRU with the needs of the business community through experiential learning.  Another issue related to the BIC involves fund raising.  Some important outside supporters have requested time to re-evaluate their ability to make financial contributions as a result of the recession. In response, Dr. Grimm has partnered with Jim Brockman, Director of SRU's Workforce and Professional Development program to explore alternative financing arrangements for the BIC.  Dr. Grimm, Dr. Bucha (Executive Director of the Slippery Rock University Foundation), Jim Brockman, and Merilee Madera (Director of Workforce and Community Education) met with two representatives of Congresswoman Dahlkemper's office in May 2010.  As a result of the visit, Dr. Grimm is assisting Jim Brockman in writing a U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Assistance grant to partially fund construction costs.  In other related developments,  Dr. Grimm was awarded a PASSHE Entrepreneurship Leadership Center grant in Fall 2009 for the amount of $224,498 to develop and operate an entrepreneurship center on campus.   The center is called the Center for Entrepreneurial Development and Business Advancement (CEDBA).  CEDBA is co-directed by Dr. Grimm and by Dr. Frances Amatucci who has strong credentials in entrepreneurship and experiential learning.  CEDBA is of strategic importance to BIC because it will help SRU create an identity associated with entrepreneurship and innovation which is important to generating future BIC tenants.  CEDBA will provide direction to individuals with business ideas, in addition to producing activities and events that help develop a spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation at SRU.  It will also promote regional economic development by facilitating experiential learning projects.  It is anticipated that CEDBA will be fully operational in Fall 2010.

Substantial completion determination received in May, 2011.  Infrastructure construction for Slippery Rock Technology Park will concentrate on entrance signage, retention pond fencing, pad soil compaction testing, and landscaping.  Construction and final approvals are scheduled for completion by October, 2011.  Reimbursement request submitted totals $1.25 million through the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP). Butler Health System facility at Slippery Rock opened in April, 2011.  The facility houses physician offices and diagnostic services to meet the needs of area residents.  Discussions continue for the development of an Innovation Center.  Slippery Rock University Foundation, Inc. initiated discussion with an organization for the development of senior housing in Slippery Rock Technology Park.