Multi-million dollar project breaking ground in Ignition Park

South Bend, Ind. A $36 million project is finding a home right here in South Bend and is set to provide about 60 new jobs with an average salary and benefits package of about $79,000.

The University of Notre Dame announced the news early Thursday morning. They say this project, which will be located in South Bend’s Ignition Park, will be the nation’s foremost research and test facility for advancing the technology used in the massive gas turbine engines used by commercial and military aircraft, power plants and the oil and gas industry.

Notre Dame says construction on the 43,000-square-foot building, of which 25,000 square feet will be for the Notre Dame Turbomachinery Facility, will begin this summer and be completed by March. The facility is expected to be fully operational in July 2016.

“This venture will be a cutting-edge research and testing facility for the turbine engine industry as well as a tremendous economic driver for our region,” said Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., the University’s president. “Notre Dame is grateful to our partners for their support of this project and excited about all that it will mean to our University, the city and state, the industry as a whole and our nation.”

Notre Dame says it will contribute $7.5 million to the project, but they aren’t the only ones. Some of the other partners are General Electric Co., the city of South Bend, the state of Indiana, through the Indiana Economic Development Corp., Great Lakes Capital and Indiana Michigan Power.

According to Notre Dame, General Electric Co., committed $13.5 million to fund research and testing for five years, The city of South Bend is contributing $4.4 million inclusive of equipment, land for a new power substation and tax abatements, the state of Indiana, through the Indiana Economic Development Corp., is providing up to $600,000 in training grants and up to $2 million in infrastructure assistance, Great Lakes Capital is providing upfront capital of approximately $6 million to construct the facility and Indiana Michigan Power will be investing $2 million in a new substation to provide the considerable power needed to operate the facility’s multiple test cells.

“General Electric and Notre Dame make a great team,” says Scott Ford, Executive Director of Community Investment. “Their investment will lead to major technological advancements and provides an anchor tenant to an emergent aerospace research and development hub at Ignition Park.”

“The center will allow GE’s industrial businesses to simulate full-scale engine operating environments,” said Rick Stanley, vice president and chief technologist for GE’s Power and Water business and a Notre Dame graduate. “The important rig testing we will do at the center builds upon GE’s already strong and long-standing technical relationship with the University. For years, GE has turned to Notre Dame for top technical talent.”

“We’re thrilled that South Bend will serve as the base of research that will have a profound effect on the world while making a major local impact,” says Oliver Davis, Common Council President. “The jobs this facility will bring and the wider economic activity it will support will be a boon to the City’s growing high-tech sector.”

When the facility is finally up and running, the city of South Bend says it is projected to bring 57 jobs through 2018 at an average wage of $38 per hour. In addition, “60 jobs are expected through the growth of local suppliers to support an increased need for precision manufactured components,” states the city of South Bend. “When it’s operating at full capacity, the facility’s economic impact has been estimated at more than $15 million a year.”

“The aerospace industry is reaching new heights in Indiana,” said Gov. Mike Pence. “Universities like Notre Dame and others across the state are providing avenues for discovery, proving that the sky is the limit in Indiana when it comes to bringing a big vision to life. The next great technological innovation could come from the mind of a Hoosier, highlighting for the world the full range of possibilities when investing in a state that works.”

Mark Neal, deputy mayor of South Bend added, “Attracting such major investment speaks to South Bend’s economic future and its capacity to attract high-tech businesses. This project continues our city’s history of innovation and is more evidence of the benefits that South Bend’s economic and geographic advantages offer.”

Notre Dame’s release continued saying:

Notre Dame’s current Turbomachinery Laboratory has worked with industry and government partners to advance gas turbine engine technologies since 2003. Center researchers focus on the design and operation of test facilities that simulate full-scale engine operating environments.

The new facility, which will feature five test bays for compressor and turbine rig testing, will take previous work to new heights by testing engine components at pressures and temperatures higher than any that exist at current U.S. university facilities. It also will be used to advance current working relationships with both government sponsors and all manufacturers of gas turbine engines.

“We are very excited to be launching the Notre Dame Turbomachinery Facility,” said Robert J. Bernhard, the University’s vice president for research. “It will be a significant combination of world class research, building on an outstanding program, and local economic development. We are very grateful to our collaborating organizations, who have been outstanding partners in putting this project together.”

In addition to the industry and government partnerships, Notre Dame plans to collaborate with researchers and staff at local and state colleges and universities in order to widen the educational mission of the new facility.

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