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Georgia, Kansas Budgets Fund Innovation Infrastructure

April 24, 2014

State leaders often cite publicly supported innovation infrastructure as investments in jobs of the future. When targeted and executed smartly, such investments can spur job growth over the long-term and help advance technology commercialization. Lawmakers in Georgia and Kansas recently passed budgets that include funding to support high-tech research facilities and similar measures are pending in several other states. The University of Georgia (UGA) is slated to receive nearly $45 million for a Science Learning Center and, in Kansas, the legislature approved $2 million for creation of a new Innovation Campus aimed at attracting technology jobs.

UGA’s Science Learning Center is a 122,500-square-foot facility that will replace current science buildings and increase lab space for students. Construction is expected to start this summer and be completed by 2016. Another $5 million will help equip a new cancer research building at Georgia Regents University in Augusta.

Georgia’s FY15 budget also increased funding for scholarship programs to train students for in-demand fields (see related Digest article).

The Innovation Campus at Wichita State is described by WSU officials as a place to house “early stage entrepreneurial university spin-out companies and existing technology-based businesses,” reports The Wichita Eagle. Lawmakers approved $2 million in the education finance bill (HB 2506) to help establish the campus. A California-based data storage company with operations in Wichita was announced as the first tenant and this week, a local company that provides support to general aviation, commercial airline and military aircraft manufacturers and operators announced their commitment to locate within the campus.

The bill also includes $500,000 for WSU’s National Center for Aviation Training to restore some cuts made last year.

Bills to fund high-tech facilities are either pending or have been approved in several other states. This week, a $50 million bond proposal package was passed in Maine, which includes $10 million to fund competitive grant programs for the development of a biometric research facility, reports The Bangor Daily News.

Minnesota lawmakers are considering a $6.5 million bonding proposal for the Minnesota State Community and Technical College to construct larger diesel technology labs that will accommodate modern diesel agriculture, construction and transportation equipment. The upgraded and expanded center will provide automotive students with more hands-on training opportunities, according to a press release. Similar initiatives are pending in Florida, Michigan and Rhode Island (see related Digest article).

Georgia, Kansasstate budget, higher ed