FTCC to unveil plans for center in Innovation Quarter

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Forsyth Technical Community College will unveil at 5 p.m. Monday its plans for a $7 million downtown center in the newest renovated space within Wake Forest Innovation Quarter.

A press conference is set at Wake Forest BioTech Place in the downtown Winston-Salem research park.

Speaking will be Gary Green, president of Forsyth Tech, and Eric Tomlinson, president of the park.

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, which operates the park, said the presentation represents the culmination of Forsyth Tech’s Momentum capital campaign.

Forsyth Tech has been negotiating on a 10-year lease for a 24,000-square-foot space in the 525@Vine building, according to Linville Team Partners, which is marketing the building.

The space is projected to house the college’s Small Business Center, Corporate Training Center and facilities supporting the biotechnology and nanotechnology programs.

Phase Two of Wexford Science & Technology LLC’s involvement in the research park is considered pivotal by local economic and elected officials and by the community.

The developer also is handling construction of the new headquarters for Inmar Inc. in an adjacent building.

The projects are being lauded for providing not only life-sciences research space but also momentum for downtown housing, retail and other economic shots in the arm.

The 525@Vine building already has the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina as a tenant, which is taking a 10,000-square-foot space on the first floor for its second express workout facility in the downtown area.

On Aug. 26, the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners approved taking on $171,257 annually in operating costs for the proposed project.

At that meeting, Green said Forsyth Tech had been working for several years to locate a facility in the park.

“The Innovation Quarter is one of the most important economic-development initiatives for our community right now, and it’s creating a number of new jobs,” Green said.

“In that sense, what we’re doing is trying to match up the kinds of high-skilled programs that we have with the needs that will occur in the park.”

The college had to get the county’s support before moving forward since the county is responsible for paying its operating costs, such as utilities payments.

The college would use state-appropriated funds to cover the lease payments of $300,000 a year for 10 years.

Capital improvements and equipment would be paid for with private funds from the Forsyth Tech Foundation.

Green said the college has a number of options after the 10-year lease expires, including purchasing the space, renewing the lease or building a new facility.

Some funding from the county could be required near the end of the current fiscal year, but the annual cost will likely begin with the 2014-15 budget.

Ronda Tatum, Forsyth County’s director of budget and management, said that if any financing is needed this fiscal year, it will have to come from contingency funds.