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Lots of Action At Innovation Park

Tom Flanigan

There are a lot of new developments at Leon County’s Innovation Park. The Park’s Executive Director provided a recent update, but before we get into all that’s new, a bit of history is in order.

Innovation Park itself is anything BUT new. The group that oversees it – called the Leon County Research and Development Authority – was created by Florida statute way back in 1978. The idea was to create a suitably attractive environment for high-tech business and industry to locate in Tallahassee. After many years of moderate success in fits and starts, along with some definite setbacks, the Park seems to be on the verge of a new and positive chapter in its history. There are now 32 organizations in 17 buildings on the 208-acre campus in Southwest Tallahassee. And Ron Miller, who has been the Authority’s and by extension Innovation Park’s head guy for more than 6 years, said Innovation Park now has a welcome problem.

“We have almost 100% of all of our leasable space leased right now. A lot of it’s been because of some work that FSU is doing on their IT Services building. They’ve moved a lot of their staff over to the Morgan Building. So we’re out of space basically right now.”

Although Miller added there is one building that remains empty, but only for the time being.

“The Collins Building is being renovated and we are working with a prospective anchor tenant for that building and we’re really excited about what we’re going to be able to do there. We’ve already got funding for it and it’s just a matter of working with that anchor tenant to get everything spec’ed out and bid out and start working on that project.”

Miller said the Park’s main manufacturer continues to grow.

“We’re also excited about Danfoss-Turbocorp and the expansion that they’re announced. The Park has approved their site plan and I think they’re getting pretty close to breaking ground. I don’t have the exact date of the groundbreaking yet, but I know they’re very close.”

One area that Miller admitted hasn’t gotten a lot of recent attention is the Park environment for all the people who work there. So that’s being addressed now.

“We just cut a contract with Leon County – they’re experts at building trails – and so we’ve asked them to manage that project for us and so we’re building about a six-tenth of a mile trail around the central pond. That will open up the middle of Innovation Park to all of its 2,000 employees who can take advantage of that.”

Of course, all those people can’t walk or jog on an empty stomach, so Miller announced there’s another much-needed amenity that will soon be on the way.

“Once we get the Collins Building done we’ll be moving our headquarters from the building where we are now – the Knight Administrative Building – we’re going to move our offices over there and look at how we can turn the Administrative Building into a food option. So we’ll be putting out some requests for information from private companies who might have an interest in taking on that project.”

That will be a welcome addition to the Park, which now only has food service from the small café in the Mag Lab lobby, a solitary food truck and the nearby FSU Golf Course restaurant.

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Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, focusing on covering local personalities, issues, and organizations. He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas, and his home state of Maryland.

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