UW-Stevens Point receives $5 million for economic development projects


The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point will receive more than one-fifth of the economic development grant money available in a new University of Wisconsin Incentive Grant program. 

The UW System will award a total $22.5 million over the next two years to support increased economic growth and a stronger Wisconsin workforce. Twelve projects were chosen among the 56 proposals submitted across the state. 

At UW-Stevens Point, nearly $5 million will go toward three of the 12 projects: 

• Collaborative Research Facility for Development and Commercialization of Biorefinery Technologies: Cellulose Pilot & Processing Lab ($2,837,596): Cellulose is one component of biomass, such as wood. Innovative companies are looking into new sources of cellulose and new ways to process cellulose into chemicals, textiles, packaging, fuels and materials. This will result in the development of new industries developing for a more sustainable economy. A pilot-scale facility and a research center will be built for businesses to test processes in collaboration with UW-Stevens Point researchers. The facility will help accelerate the growth of these companies. 

• Economic Development through Innovation in Specialty Papers, Packaging and Converting ($1,445,336): Specialty paper, such as coated and laminated paper for packaging, is an area with strong growth potential and an important Wisconsin industry. This project will fund upgrades to the UW-Stevens Point pilot paper machine, allowing for trial runs to help companies in research and development. It will help manufacturers add new revenue streams and train current and future skilled workers. A compostability testing service recently developed at UW-Stevens Point will be improved with automation to better serve industries developing sustainable packaging materials. 

• Aquaculture and Aquaponic Economic Development and Innovation ($677,500). In partnership with UW-Extension, a new business incubator will be created to increase workforce education and training opportunities in sustainable food production. 

Last month, the UW Board of Regents approved reallocating existing university funds for the Incentive Grant program. These funds will be used in fiscal years 2014 and 2015 for innovative and sustainable economic development projects. They are intended for one-time or start-up costs that develop or enhance economic development, or workforce development, or improve the affordability of postsecondary education. 

UW-Stevens Point Chancellor Bernie Patterson said he is excited about the opportunities these grants bring to the university and to central and northern Wisconsin. “A major initiative within our ‘Partnership for Thriving Communities’ strategic plan is economic development. Our vision for the university is to be more sensitive to community issues and more responsive to community problems so we all prosper.

 “We are grateful to the UW System for providing the funding and to the state Legislature for supporting these critically important initiatives,” Patterson said.

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