ECP Airport and FSU PC considering locations for aerospace facility

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) – Northwest Florida Beaches International and FSU PC campus officials are moving forward with plans for a major facility at the airport. 

The 100,000-square-foot building is part of a $98 million Triumph grant.

Project INSPIRE stands for the institute for strategic partnerships, innovation, research, and education.

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Economic leaders see it as a future hub for aerospace engineering and manufacturing.

“We want to be able to provide services and attract industry to the region that will diversify the economy, and provide more opportunities for education and training,” FSU PC Associate Provost Farrukh Alvi said.

The 100,000-square-foot building will be used as a research base for students and teachers, technology development, prototype demonstrations, and equipment studies.

It will include testing, engineering, and manufacturing labs, and one of the largest, most advanced hypersonic wind tunnels offered by any American university.

The wind tunnel will have the highest range of mach speeds.

Triumph Gulf Coast is planning to invest $98 million to help fund the project.

“FSU PC we do not have a better partner than the College of Engineering with civil, environmental, electrical, computer, and mechanical. And then graduate programs and systems, civil and electrical. This would expand those programs,” FSU PC Dean Randy Hanna said.

During Wednesday’s airport board meeting officials discuss possible locations for the lab on the airport campus.

“The board considered multiple sites, and with those sites are various variables that we need to do some more research on,” ECP Chairman Holly Melzer said.

They’ve narrowed it down to four possible sites.

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Sites one and two have good accessibility but restricted expansion options.

Sites three and four can grow but are near future runways.

They also have to consider wetland areas.

“We are in the beginning of a long and fairly complex process. But we are very positive about where it’s going to end up,” Alvi said.

Board members hope to have a site selected by their next meeting on April 24th.

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