$18 Million Research Center is Dedicated in Newport News

The Applied Research Center could help bring Virginia jobs, investment, high-technology leadership and even the Nobel Prize, officials said yesterday.

In a ceremony to dedicate the seven-story, $18 million research and development center adjacent to the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, Gov. Jim Gilmore and other officials gave the new lab and office building a lot to live up to.

The ARC, as the brick and glass structure on Jefferson Avenue is known, will link public universities and private industries with the neighboring federal nuclear physics laboratory. It is also intended to serve as the flagship of a 200-acre, high-technology industrial park, the Jefferson Center for Research and Technology, aiming to lure industries associated with commercial applications of science developed at Jefferson Lab and with its free electron laser.

Owned by the Newport News Economic Development Authority, the center's development and construction were a collaborative effort by the city, the authority, the state and federal governments and four public universities.

The schools, Christopher Newport University, Norfolk State University, Old Domionion University and the College of William and Mary, all will have research programs at the center designed to encourage collaboration with the building's industrial tenants and Jefferson Lab scientists.

All four schools sent their presidents to join the governor and other officials in making speeches to dedicate the building, and the event's cumulative rhetoric set high hopes.

The rhetorical high-water mark was reached by William and Mary President Timothy J. Sullivan, who predicted that a future researcher or researchers at the new center would undoubtedly win the Nobel Prize.

Gilmore said the center would lead to the "birth of new industries" and help him achieve his goal of bringing Virginia 250,000 new jobs. He predicted the research center's associated industrial park would create 4,200 jobs itself and capture $160 million in investment.

Newport News Mayor Joe S. Frank, the master of ceremonies, waxed poetic by comparing the ARC to the biblical Noah's ark.

"Noah himself would appreciate this building as a worthy craft," he said, for taking the city and region "forward on the tides of technology."

With 122,000 square feet of laboratory, classroom and office space, the building will house researchers from the universities and the Jefferson Lab and provide office space for private business ventures related to the ongoing research.

Jefferson Lab and its partner universities are working with new technologies for a variety of industrial applications.