WEST LAFAYETTE – After signing his name next to 30 others on the inside the metal door and then hanging it on the first relay box off the floor at SEL Purdue – a new, 100,000-square-foot facility for electric power research, development and manufacturing near campus – company founder Edmund Schweitzer wanted to know where the inaugural product was heading.
The box would stay at the three-story facility, sitting on top of a hill above the intersection of U.S. 231 and Indiana 26, Jake Church, factory manager, told him.
“This one’s a keeper?” Schweitzer asked the employees – most of them in West Lafayette from Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories headquarters in Pullman, Washington, or its plant in Lewiston, Idaho, for the start-up – before being assured that the first ones going to market will be ready in a matter of weeks.
When Schweitzer broke ground on the $20 million plant in 2018, Purdue President Mitch Daniels was talking about SEL Purdue and its promise of 300 jobs and research partnerships on campus in similar terms.
Daniels touted SEL Purdue the first industrial piece – “that very first, big investment” – in Purdue’s Discovery Park District, a 400-acre area just west of campus that the university hopes to convert into a “live-work-play” community of homes, businesses, retail and more. Daniels said that in Purdue’s vision of more than $1 billion in development in the district over the next 30 years, SEL Purdue would “undoubtedly serve as a come-hither message to other great businesses.”
Since then, Sweden-based Saab announced plans to put a manufacturing plant in the Discovery Park District to make fuselages for the Boeing T-X, advertised as the U.S. Air Force’s next-generation jet trainer. Plans also advanced on Provenance, a housing and retail development expected to put a subdivision of single-family homes near the corner of State Street and Airport Road. More projects in the district and along State Street are in various stages of design and construction.
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