Centennial Research Park might be making Kent a bigger player on the world stage.

Mariana Silva

Kent State recently announced Pathogen Systems Inc., which operates under the name of Crystal Diagnostics, joined as the second tenant of the research facility between state Routes 261 and 59. This move is expected to increase jobs and expertise in liquid crystal technology.

“We just don’t look at those as one or two companies,” Daniel Smith, Kent Economic Development director said. “If you start looking at those together, you start building these clusters that generate additional success.”

Although the research park is in Kent’s joint economic development district and not exactly in Kent, Smith said both the city of Kent and Franklin Township could benefit from having more tenants at the research site.

Smith said the jobs created would also contribute to what the city collects in income tax and help pay for some city services.

Greg Wilson, Kent State’s associate vice president of economic development and strategic partnerships, agreed.

“(Crystal Diagnostics) has a dozen employees. Now they are going to be hiring new people and a lot of these employees may end up living in Kent,” Wilson said. “They are going to be paying taxes, buying products in the city. The city will definitely benefit.”

In 2008, Kent State, Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine and Crystal Diagnostics received a $3 million grant from Ohio Third Frontier Wright Projects Program, to help fund a water research project.

Kent State received a sub-grant from that amount, $434,000, which is being used to pay for renovations to the research facility to receive Crystal Diagnostics. The renovations are expected to be complete this fall, and the company will move in at the beginning of next year.

Centennial Research Park, Kent State’s former bus garage, was inaugurated on September 2009, when AlphaMicron became the park’s first tenant.

“These companies aren’t necessarily local or from Northeast Ohio,” Smith said. “They are coming over from Europe, from China, so these are world based companies right here in Kent.”

But with AlphaMicron occupying close to one-third of the 40,000 square feet available at the site and Crystal Diagnostics taking 4,000 square feet, Centennial Research Park may not be able to take any more tenants.

Wilson said the university and city are looking into new areas other tech companies can occupy, such as AlphaMicron’s former incubator at Martinel Drive.

“We’ve had 17 startup companies that are university-related in one way or another, and they all have employees,” Wilson said. “The economic impact of all of these people living and working in this area: That’s a big economic impact. And that’s what we call technologic-based economic development.”

Contact Mariana Silva at [email protected].