The University of Missouri is pulling out as the anchor of a planned “innovation park” in Blue Springs, prompting city leaders Thursday to talk about redefining the goals for the project.
The university announced it will vacate leased space near the Missouri Innovation Park site by the end of September to “consolidate and streamline operations” in Jackson County.
The city purchased about 24 acres at the southeast corner of Interstate 70 and Adams Dairy Parkway for about $2.3 million. Officials expected in 2012 to break ground for a 60,000-square-foot building to house university operations by the first quarter of this year.
But the land remains vacant and no ground has been broken. A city spokeswoman said Thursday the city had made no significant investment in the project since buying the land.
MU’s participation in the innovation park was part of a 2008 memorandum of understanding between the university, the city and the Blue Springs Economic Development Corporation. The plan was eventually to create a business park focused on science technology and research that could be home to dozens of companies.
In a statement posted on the city’s website Thursday, the university said things had changed.
“Technology has changed the way we deliver our services, the economy has continued to challenge us financially, and some traditional funding sources have become less dependable,” the statement said.
Mayor Carson Ross said on the Blue Springs website that officials were disappointed but optimistic.
“Retooling our economic development goals for the Innovation Park and engaging new partners will strengthen our strategy going forward,” Ross said.
Brien Starner, president of the economic development corporation, said in the same statement that “now is the time to refocus and redefine the development strategy of the Missouri Innovation Park.”