|The Rules of (Business) Attraction
Today, about 70 companieswith staff ranging from two to more than 400 employeesoccupy more than one million square feet in 23 buildings in the Tech Park under agreements that include owner-occupied and Rensselaer-owned properties. The current occupancy rate stands at close to 100 percent. But Wacholder, who has been involved in the park since working on the early feasibility studies, says it is not just the number of businesses that is notable, it’s the quality and variety of the portfolio developing on those wooded acres that stretch from Route 4 to the Hudson River.
Just two months before the first shovels went in at GE, for instance, the Tech Park welcomed the world’s most powerful university-based supercomputer when the Computational Center for Nanotechnology Innovations (CCNI) began operation. Housed in an unassuming brick building filled at this point with more hardware than humans, CCNI represents a $100 million collaboration among Rensselaer, IBM, and the state of New York.
With the supercomputer, capable of processing 70 trillion calculations every second, the center’s partners hope for nothing less than a major jolt for the local economy and a global reach that will draw a new wave of Tech Park tenants.
For the last two years WMHT Educational Telecommunications has also called the Tech Park home. In its first custom-built headquarters, the regional PBS affiliate is planning, among other things, its switch to all-digital broadcast. CEO Robert Altman says the setting is no coincidence.
“We’re all about the intersection of communication, education, and technology, which is certainly the same space that RPI occupies,” says Altman. “Particularly since so much of what we hope to do is in partnership with other kinds of institutions, it’s that much easier if we’re all in the same place.”
Other developments include the arrival in 2005 of the Children’s Museum of Science and Technology, formerly the Junior Museum of Troy. Occupying about 12,000 feet, the museum guides visitors through a circular route designed to entice without overwhelming.
At the other end of the continuum at 210,000 square feet is MapInfo, which has become a global leader in what the company calls “location intelligence solutions.” The company grew from the concept developed by four Rensselaer undergraduates in a technological entrepreneurship class to a multinational corporation with expertise in desktop mapping software that recently was purchased by Pitney Bowes for more than $400 million.