This is the John Mica Engineering and Aerospace Innovation Complex, also known as the MicaPlex, along the west side of South Clyde Morris Boulevard in Daytona Beach on Monday, August 10, 2020. It became the first building to open at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's research park in April 2017. News-Journal/David Tucker
DAYTONA BEACH — Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University plans to break ground in the next two months on a manufacturing facility that will expand its aviation/aerospace research park here to five buildings since its opening in 2017.
The 10,000-square-foot Advanced Technology & Manufacturing Center is expected to open by April of next year, said Rodney Cruise, the university's chief operating officer and senior vice president.
The two-story building will likely cost $2 to $3 million to construct. he said. It will be located behind Embry-Riddle's printing shop along the east side of Clyde Morris Boulevard, south of Bellevue Avenue.
It will also have a far simpler design than the $21 million spaceship-looking MicaPlex business incubator across the street that became the research park's first building when it opened in March 2017.
That makes it no less significant.
"It's strategically important as it will bring true production and manufacturing space into the mix," said Cruise.
This is a preliminary rendering of what the planned Advanced Technology & Manufacturing Center at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's research park in Daytona Beach is expected to look like upon completion in spring 2022. The 10,000-square-foot building will be along the east side of Clyde Morris Boulevard, south of Bellevue Avenue. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Mori Hosseini, chairman of the board of trustees for Embry-Riddle, said this soon-to-be latest addition to the research park is another step towards fulfilling what he and the other trustees envisioned more than a decade ago.
"We saw that to take the university to the next level, we had to have a research arm," said Hosseini, the chairman and CEO of Daytona Beach-ICI Homes. Hosseini also chairs the board for the University of Florida and serves on the board for Space Florida, the state's aerospace economic development agency.
The primary goal of the research park is to encourage faculty and students to work with people in the private-sector to figure out and launch commercial applications for their research that can create high-paying jobs.
"By providing an environment where academia, industry and entrepreneurship can share their best ideas, entrepreneurs in Embry-Riddle's Research Park are translating innovation into new products, services and solutions," said Embry-Riddle President P. Barry Butler, in a news release.
Efforts have already created 100+ jobs
To date, the research park has served 22 companies, many of them startups. Those commercial ventures have raised more than $41 million in funding from grants and investors. They have also created more than 100 full-time jobs that pay an average annual salary of $67,000, and provided internships for 159 students.
The research park has also resulted in five patent applications in the past year, according to Stephanie Miller, executive director of technology transfer and research park initiatives for the university.
In addition to the MicaPlex, the research park is home to a 16,000-square-foot wind tunnel complex, a 7,500-square-foot research hangar that connects to the runways at Daytona Beach International Airport next door, and a 4,000-square-foot warehouse. All are on the 15 acres for the research park on the west side of Clyde Morris.
The planned Advanced Technology & Manufacturing Center will be the first building on the research park's 85 acres on the east side of Clyde Morris. It will increase the total square footage at the park to 87,500.
The university is just barely tapping the research park's full potential, said Hosseini.
"We have the land and capability to build hundreds of thousands of square feet of buildings for research at Embry-Riddle, close to a half-million square feet," he said.
Big draw for companies
Kent Sharples, president of the CEO Business Alliance, a group of local business leaders dedicated to recruiting employers to Volusia County, said the Embry-Riddle Research Park is a big selling point.
"I think the addition of the manufacturing facility will enhance the attractiveness of Embry-Riddle and Volusia County as the northern leg of Florida's Space Triangle, which includes Kennedy Space Center (in Brevard County) and the University of Central Florida and the Orlando area," Sharples said.
The hope, he said, is that as the commercial space launch industry grows in Brevard County where the majority of companies involved in those efforts are located, more, especially suppliers, will start to branch out into neighboring Volusia County.
"What Embry-Riddle has done over the past few years has been phenomenal, We've got a couple prospects on the drawing board now," he said.
Cruise said the new building "adds another unique opportunity for businesses to partner with Embry-Riddle. This latest expansion of the research park demonstrates the continued success of Embry-Riddle's plan."