East Carolina University’s project to transform Greenville’s warehouse district, Intersect East, will expand research at the university and bring business opportunities to Greenville’s economy.
ECU Interim Chancellor Ron Mitchelson said Intersect East will put an emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation at ECU as it will provide a place for small business development. He said ECU has discussed, but not yet determined, its research focus in two areas: biomedical engineering and bioprocess engineering.
One of the first buildings to be finished is a 10,000 square foot space reserved for the College of Engineering and Technology as a training center for advanced manufacturing, according to Mitchelson. He said the east is a hub to biopharma manufacturing districts and ECU hopes to bring some of those firms to Intersect East.
“I think our emphasis will be more on the manufacturing side than the drug development side,” Mitchelson said. “I think it’s going to be focused on how do you manufacture this, how do you scale this up?”
Mitchelson said Intersect East’s focus on small business development will stem from the College of Business Pirate Entrepreneurship Challenge. He said he hopes future winners of the challenge will use Intersect East as the landing place for their companies to create firms and jobs.
Elliott Sidewalk Communities, the partner that helps to produce Intersect East, has produced similar style projects on various campuses. Master Developer Tim Elliott said ECU’s office and lab component is different than most projects. He said Elliott Sidewalk Communities seeks to mingle its corporate research and development needs with ECU to create high tech, biotech and research jobs.
Elliott said Intersect East is a Pacesetter Urban hub that will marry universities, leading businesses and a downtown setting to create a research park. He said Intersect East will bring Pacesetter tenants who will need to work with university research talent to help take them to the next level.
“The hope? Attract, incubate and grow the next Google, in hopes of creating oodles of jobs in the area,” Elliott said.
Elliott Sidewalk Communities places Pacesetter Urban Hubs within existing urban fabrics to allow for mixed uses of retail, office and research all within walking distance of downtown, according to Elliott. He said the company wants to create a garden here in the east that grows the best businesses we can muster.
Elliott said Intersect East’s project is very complex and will take at least eight to 10 years to complete. He said, while the vision and location of the project are sound, the changes of economies and markets can bring complications and challenges.
Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance at ECU Sara Thorndike said in an email interview the first three buildings to be finished at Intersect East will generate more than $500,000 in new annual tax revenues. She said ECU estimates the potential financial benefits to the eastern North Carolina region and state could be around $412 million annually.
Further information on Intersect East can be found on its website.