GREENVILLE, S.C. — Clemson University officials broke ground Tuesday on a new $14-million building that will help bring even more automotive companies to the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) campus, create new jobs and bring more engineers into the workforce.

An 82,000-square-foot multi-tenant building will be the latest addition to the CU-ICAR campus that has won international acclaim for bringing together leading researchers and automotive companies to advance technology. One Research Drive is expected to create 220 jobs and generate $2.6 million in private investment at the outset.

The demand for locating on the CU-ICAR campus has continued to increase building on the success of the adjacent Center for Emerging Technologies, fully occupied by world-class companies such as Sage Automotive, Michelin, ESYS Automation and others.

“Clemson is now a top 20 national public university,” Clemson University President James P. Clements said. “To keep moving forward, we need world-class facilities that give our students a place to learn, our researchers a place to develop cutting-edge breakthroughs and our industry partners an innovative environment in which to flourish. One Research Drive will do all three. It’s not just a building. It’s an engine for economic growth.”

ORD RenderingOne Research Drive is the sixth and final building in an area of campus known as Technology Neighborhood I. Construction is expected to take about a year. The target is to have the building ready for occupancy on Dec. 31, 2015.

John Ballato, Clemson’s vice president for economic development, said that as the Southeast’s automotive sector expands, more research-and-development activities are shifting to the region.

“We are seeing a positive trend of companies in the less-developed segments of the automotive industry eco-system coming to our region. Specifically, more engineering services, testing and R&D than ever before is driving the demand for additional space on the CU-ICAR campus.”

About 30,000 square feet of One Research Drive will go to much-needed classroom and lab space for Clemson’s fast-growing department of automotive engineering.

A department that started with eight graduate students in 2007 grew to 212 by 2013.

The department includes Deep Orange, an immensely popular program in which students build a prototype car with industry technology partners.

Nearly 95 percent of graduates go on to work in the auto industry or academia.

“Our degrees are in high demand,” said Imtiaz Haque, executive director of the Carroll A. Campbell Graduate Engineering Center and founding chair of the department of automotive engineering. “We have far more applicants than we can accept. The additional space will allow us to open our doors to even more students.”

About 700 students, faculty members and employees work in Technology Neighborhood One at CU-ICAR. The population will rise to about 1,000 when One Research Drive is filled, said John Boyette, the director of Clemson University’s Office of Land and Capital Asset Stewardship.

Image by Craig Mahaffey

Image by Craig Mahaffey

A long-time supporter of CU-ICAR is helping fund One Research Drive. The U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is providing $2 million for the building.

“Supporting innovation is a key priority for the president, the Commerce Department and EDA,” said U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams. “EDA is proud of the role it played in supporting the groundbreaking research and development taking place at CU-ICAR, and we look forward to seeing the exciting new technologies and ideas that come out of this facility.”

The EDA also provided $3 million in 2009 to build the Center for Emerging Technologies.

“We are extremely grateful for the support from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration,” CU-ICAR Executive Director Frederick Cartwright said. “Their investments are helping expand CU-ICAR, the university’s automotive engineering program and the state’s auto industry. We look forward to continuing our partnership in the future.”

The balance of the funding comes from private financing. As with all buildings on the CU-ICAR campus One Research Drive will be built to a high level of environmental excellence and LEED Silver standard.

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