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May 2, 2013

WPI Dedicates Newest Gateway Park Building

Rick Saia A poster highlighting one of several stages of construction of WPI's newest building at Gateway Park sits on an easel inside the building. In the background across the street is the tent that housed Wednesday's dedication ceremony for the 92,000-square-foot structure.

Worcester Polytechnic University officially introduced its newest Gateway Park building Wednesday, a $32-million, four-story edifice that now houses a mix of academic and private-sector functions.

With federal, state and local leaders joining WPI officials in an hour-long ceremony on the grass field that separates the building from Salisbury Street, college President and CEO Dennis Berkey lauded the "high degree of collaboration" among them in pulling together the resources to establish the school's Gateway Park facilities.

"Gateway Park draws upon this city's proud history of innovation and looks to the future with expansive opportunities for education, discovery and the development of new technologies that will grow our economy and improve the human condition," Berkey said in a statement distributed before the ceremony.

The 92,000-square-foot building, at 50 Prescott St., joins the older — and larger — Life Sciences and Bioengineering Center at 60 Prescott St. that opened in 2007. The top two stories of the new building are home to 200 employees of Siemens Metal Technologies. The bottom two floors — making up 35,000 square feet, is occupied by three WPI programs: the Biomanufacturing Education and Training Center, an expanded fire protection engineering research and burn laboratory, and the graduation division of WPI's school of business. Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives has leased space in the building to create an incubator for emerging life sciences companies. Much of it will be used by Blue Sky BioServices, a contract research company.

Altogether, the two buildings house close to 500 employees. The new building is about 95 percent occupied, according to Michael Cohen, a spokesman for WPI.

Officials at Wednesday's ceremony lauded not only the impact the building can make on innovation, but also the economic effect by creating jobs.

"This unique new facility will create jobs, provide training for the next generation of life sciences workers, foster the growth of new companies, and advance scientific research," said Susan Windham-Bannister, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center.

"The economic spinoff … is really priceless," Worcester City Manager Michael O'Brien added in his remarks to the roughly 150 people who gathered for the ceremony, alluding to the new jobs and business opportunities it's expected to generate.

The building will also generate about $5.2 million in property taxes for the city over 16 years, under the terms of a tax increment financing agreement, WPI said.

Among the other officials at the ceremony were Mayor Joseph Petty, U.S. Rep. James McGovern, Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray and Dennis A. Fitzpatrick, president of The O'Connell Companies of Holyoke, which constructed and owns, the building.

"We are pleased … to celebrate the opening of this building as the embodiment of a vision built upon strong relationships between the academic, business and public sectors," said Fitzpatrick, who noted that the level of "trust, collaboration and enthusiasm" among the parties caused his company to move forward with the project.

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Briefing: Life Sciences In Worcester

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