University of Dayton’s $53M GE Aviation EPISCENTER Is the Best Economic Development Project in Ohio

The $53 million, newly constructed GE Aviation EPISCENTER(Electrical Power Integrated System Center) on the University of Dayton's campus is slated to open this December 13. But the facility, finished in August, is already impressing. On October 24, the Ohio Economic Development Association, a not-for-profit association of professionals whose, recognized it as the best economic development project in the state Ohio, in 2013.

The $53 million, newly constructed GE Aviation EPISCENTER (Electrical Power Integrated System Center) on the University of Dayton’s campus is slated to open on Dec. 13. But the facility, finished in August, is already making an impression. On Oct. 24, the Ohio Economic Development Association recognized it as the best economic development project in the state Ohio this year.

Work started on the project on April 14, 2011. Constructed on about eight acres of land on River Park Drive, the facility includes a four-story, 50,000-square-foot office building connected to an 88,000-square-foot world-class electrical power laboratory. The EPISCENTER will be the University of Dayton’s first LEED-certified building.

GE announced its plans to build the center in November 2010. It chose the site because of its close proximity to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the University of Dayton Research Institute. The state of Ohio awarded $7.6 million in Ohio Third Frontier Funds to the University of Dayton Research Institute to support the development.

The center has already had a significant economic impact. Fourty-nine contractors worked on the project, providing 665 construction jobs on a total estimated payroll of $15.1 million. In December, 50 GE Aviation employees will start working at the facility. Within five years and depending on future contracts, GE Aviation expects to have between 150 and 200 researchers at the site.

It’s unusual for a top Fortune 500 corporation to locate a multimillion-dollar research facility on a college campus. The University of Dayton worked together with Dayton Public Schools, CityWide Development Corp., a coalition of state and local governments, and legal and financial professionals to attract the company. GE Aviation is the world’s largest jet engine supplier. It operates six facilities in Ohio and employs more than 9,000 people, helping to rank the state third in aircraft-related jobs in the U.S. In the past two years, the company has increased its employment in Ohio by 7 percent.

Dayton Mayor Gary Leitzell, the city commission, the Fairgrounds Neighborhood Association, Rubicon Park Business Association and Rubicon Mill Neighborhood Association all endorsed the university’s award application. In their letter of support, Mayor Leitzell and the commissioners called the project a “signature development for the city, if not the entire state.”

“This project serves as a cornerstone in the revitalization of this part of the city and is the foundation of the university’s vision to transform a former urban brownfield into a thriving academic and research development,” said Daniel Curran, University of Dayton president, in a statement for the press.

Photo credits: University of Dayton