The Huntsville Times
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The way Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle figures it, the state’s $10 million investment into Cummings Research Park could have a ripple effect.
Gov. Robert Bentley has vowed not to receive a paycheck until the state unemployment rate, currently at 9.3 percent, drops to 5 percent. Using state dollars to fund an 88,000-square-foot building on the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology campus, however, is expected to generate jobs.
"We’re doing everything we can to get you a paycheck," Battle said Wednesday as Bentley attended the groundbreaking for a third building at the research park’s 150-acre biotechnology campus.
Bentley said the state has committed $10 million to the building, which will cover the cost of the facility before up to 10 tenants occupy it. The tenants will then finance any needed upgrades.
Because undertermined companies will occupy the building, HudsonAlpha officials said there is no immediate estimate on the number of jobs it may create.
The new building, for which ground has long been broken and is scheduled to be completed later this year, will be on the north side of the 270,000-square-foot HudsonAlpha building. It will also be the first in what co-founder Jim Hudson said he hopes will be "many buildings" along the McMillian Park, which features sidewalks criscrossing to form a double helix, as in a DNA strand.
The groundbreaking brought out a bevy of local and state politicians as well as HudsonAlpha employees.
"To think you do bench research and you can take those ideas and develop a model through which you can then develop a product and that product be made into a sellable product and it benefit the people not only of this state but this entire nation and be done right here in this area, that’s what we need to be thinking about," Bentley said.
Hudson praised Bentley as being a supporter of HudsonAlpha when he was a legislator and continuing that support now that he is the state’s chief executive.
"His presence here highlights his and the state’s support for our economic development mission," Hudson said. "Jobs is certainly the thing we’re all thinking about today."
The groundbreaking is the latest milestone in the seemingly overnight growth of the HudsonAlpha. The cornerstone facility in the biotechnology campus began construction in 2006, spurred by a $50 million donation by the state, and the formal opening was in 2008.
Since then, the Jackson Center across Genome Way from the
HudsonAlpha building has been opened and now the third building is under construction.
"It’s a proud moment for Lonnie and me," Hudson said, referring to co-founder Lonnie McMillian. "It wasn’t that long ago that we had this dream but it has grown and grown – beyond our expectations. It’s wonderful."