MU, Blue Springs sign letter to develop first phase of Missouri Innovation Park

Representatives of Blue Springs and the University of Missouri signed a letter of agreement Monday to develop the first brick-and-mortar phase of the Missouri Innovation Park, a 63-acre development with the university serving as the anchor tenant.

Blue Springs officials hope to begin construction of an 80,000-square-foot building by next September.

The park’s initial phase will be located at the southeast quadrant of Interstate 70 and Adams Dairy Parkway, with the 63 acres fronting the parkway and the Adams Pointe Golf Course. Additional acreage is available for future growth, and officials imagine a build-out over 15 to 25 years representing perhaps $340 million in capital investment and serving as host to as many as 40 companies employing perhaps 3,700.

The project first was announced in 2008. Officials of the city and the university, along with the Blue Springs Economic Development Corp., imagined the park would attract a “knowledge-based” workforce to Blue Springs.

But the development suffered from bad timing, said Brien Starner of the Blue Springs EDC.

“When the economy began to tank, things fell apart for all the players, the state and the university, as well as the private equity market,” Starner said.

“It was then up to the city, the EDC and key stakeholders and — through a coalition approach — we were able to keep our focus on the strategy.”

In May 2010, officials dedicated the new Mizzou Center, the innovation’s park introductory phase housed in office space facing Interstate 70. Initial university tenants included the School of Information Science and Learning Technologies, Extension Food and Nutrition, the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Office of Research.