A project that is expected to boost quality of work-life for more than 1,500 employees who work in the state's largest research park is moving forward.
Construction of a one-mile sidewalk in the Thad Cochran Research, Technology and Economic Development Park started earlier this month, according to a Mississippi State University official.
"Adding the sidewalk around the Research Blvd. loop has been a top request for many of our tenants and the local community, and we are pleased to be able to provide this additional amenity," said Marc McGee, director of the MSU Research and Technology Corporation, the entity that manages the park.
"The park is a popular place for running, walking and cycling after work and on the weekend," he explained.
The 272-acre park features 12 buildings that are home to private businesses, spin-off companies, government offices and research centers and institutes. It is a joint venture of the City of Starkville, Oktibbeha County and the university, with the MSU RTC responsible for day-to-day management.
"There is nothing else like the park anywhere in Mississippi, and it is a tremendous economic development asset for our state," said David Shaw, MSU's vice president for research and economic development.
The park has seen more than $80 million in private capital investment in the last five years, according to McGee.
Additional amenities of the park include convenient parking, tree-lined boulevards, professional landscaping, redundant fiber and four-lane access, among others.
The new sidewalk will also connect with Highway 182 at George Perry St., as well as the new park roadway that opened last summer, Technology Blvd.
"We anticipate the sidewalks being ready to use in early fall," McGee said.
A grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology is funding the sidewalk expansion, McGee said.
Pritchard Engineering Inc. designed the project. Weathers Construction Inc. is the general contractor.
The park sidewalks are one of many examples of the university's ongoing focus on health and wellness, including:
--The American Heart Association has designated MSU a Gold Fit-Friendly Worksite based on the university's wide range of fit-friendly opportunities for employees that have helped to create a "culture of wellness" on campus.
--This spring, the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation awarded MSU a $250,000 grant to establish the MSU Health Fitness and Wellness Program to be administered through the university's kinesiology department to promote fitness, nutrition, smoking cessation, stress management and behavioral change strategies.
--Last fall, a new one-mile walking track -- also funded by the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation -- opened at MSU's Chadwick Lake.
For additional information about Cochran Research Park, contact McGee at email@example.com or 662-325-9575.
For more information about Mississippi State University, see www.msstate.edu.