Why a research “park” at UNC-Wilmington?

Why are “rising biotechnology and life science groups from all over the country” moving to UNCW CREST Research Park near Wilmington, North Carolina? Because the University of North Carolina has been secretly building a complex of buildings in an obscure site near Wilmington.

Campus visionaries think that “each building is one step in the scientific process”—whatever that means; probably code for many more buildings will be coming. State park-builders claim they have kept it a secret; but NOT ANYMORE, proclaims the cover of a colored, two-fold brochure that cost $1.02. (link below)

On another similarly crafted leaflet the black cover-side peels back at a lower corner to reveal an aerial view of a building complex nestled in a secluded wooded site near the Intracoastal Waterway. The word is out. Appropriately, the address is Moss Lane.

At first glance I thought, what a waste of valuable land: homes, condominiums or commercial development would be economically productive uses more appropriate to this regional retirement Mecca—government projects usually take money out of our economy. But, I suppose, this is short-sighted.

I’m not a visionary like UNC administrators and faculties presume to be. Their brochure informs us that the vision behind the park is “to provide a space for university researchers, private firms and government agencies to work together (oh, oh) in creating the next generation of biotechnology products and solutions.”

Does providing space result in creativity, products and solutions? Is it likely that because someone provided space Henry Ford developed the concept and process for mass production of his automobiles? I doubt it. Government projects work in reverse of the real world of entrepreneurship.

The brochure informs us that there was a “gap” between academic marine biotechnology research and the market place. I didn’t know that. But a new MARBIONC Building (MARine BIO technology North Carolina; get it?) bridges that gap, according to UNCW promoters: “discoveries” will now be “translating” into commercial products.

And all these university researchers, commercial people and government bureaucrats will be safe, secure and comfortable at the park’s building. Features include: 24/7 physical and information security; rated for CAT 3 hurricane winds; emergency power backup; and, best of all, the Ebb Tide Café will be open.

One of the three top reasons the brochure promotes joining UNCW CREST Research Park is: “Attractive coastal lifestyle”—sounds more like an ocean-front resort promo than a working business facility.

Well, of course, now that the park is built, they will come: all those “established firms, entrepreneurial start-ups, government agencies and universities”–maybe  looking for great vacation opportunities and an attractive coastal lifestyle.

Apparently visionaries at UNCW see another Research Triangle Park in North Carolina like the long-established one in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area. CREST might eventually include an academic research park bounded by that well-known triangle Wilmington, Whiteville and Wallace; if our legislators will dump enough money in this coastal corner of the State.



About R. E. Smith Jr.

Mr. Smith writes essays and commentary on politics, American history, environment, higher education and culture. He's been published in print media and at blog sites for about 25 years. Smith's formal education includes B.S. and M.S. degrees from the State University of New York and Syracuse University. He has earned a 21-credit hour Certificate in Professional Writing from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. Training/work experience: NYS Ranger School; U. S. Army, Corp of Engineers; soil scientist and forester with USDA; Assoc. Professor at SUNY; real estate agent; small business owner.
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