Abandoned Miami building will become high-tech incubator in $10.7 million plan

A nearly 80-year-old Miami University on Elm Street near College Avenue will later this year undergo renovation to become a centerpiece of a planned high-tech corridor through a partnership with the city of Oxford. The building, which used to house Miami's food services, just received $1 million in renovation funding from the state. (Provided Photo\Journal-News)
A nearly 80-year-old Miami University on Elm Street near College Avenue will later this year undergo renovation to become a centerpiece of a planned high-tech corridor through a partnership with the city of Oxford. The building, which used to house Miami's food services, just received $1 million in renovation funding from the state. (Provided Photo\Journal-News)

Credit: Scott Kissell

Credit: Scott Kissell

Miami University and Oxford city officials are moving on a $10.7 million plan to make an old, abandoned downtown building the centerpiece of a high-tech business incubator corridor designed to create jobs and boost the city’s economy.

The former Miami food service building, which was built nearly 70 years ago at 20 South Elm Street near the College Avenue intersection, will soon be renovated with the help of $1 million from the state.

It’s 39,000-square-foot space will be modernized later this year into business development space to attract private industries into partnerships and research with Miami, said school and city officials.

In a statement released by Miami officials, they said the plan is to “transform the building into the “College@Elm Innovation & Workforce Development Center” as part of a three-block area at the edge of Oxford’s downtown business district.

“It will have two anchor tenants — Miami, operating an Entrepreneurship Training and Incubator Center — and the Fischer Group, a Butler county manufacturing company, operating a business expansion they call their innovation extension,” said school officials.

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Miami University President Gregory Crawford said the planned center “can be a model of revitalization for small, rural towns like Oxford across the country.”

Total cost for the renovation project is $10.7 million. The facility will house office space, the entrepreneurship training center, start-ups, design and testing area, and space for manufacturing operation.

The project can act as a catalyst, transforming a three-block underdeveloped area in the epicenter of Oxford’s business corridor into a high-tech innovation corridor, said Miami officials.

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It will be the fourth renovation in the three-block area that includes the Oxford City Municipal Building project (the former Oxford Lane Library building), the Oxford Community Arts Center (OCAC) and the OCAC Park.

Jessica Greene, assistant city manager of Oxford, said the city “is committed to creating a supportive business climate that encourages the investment and economic growth necessary for a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

Miami will operate the College@Elm Innovation and Workforce Development Center and support the Entrepreneurship Training and Incubator Center.

The Fischer Group, with two locations in Butler County and 300 employees, will serve as the project’s operating and manager of the innovation extension program while creating “high-impact experiential learning opportunities for students and attracting new investment to Oxford.”

Randi Thomas, vice president for Miami’s newest department, ASPIRE, advancing strategy, partnerships, institutional relations, and economy, said the high-tech corridor will help create jobs to keep Miami graduates in the Oxford area and southwest Ohio.

“College@Elm will be a magnet for economic development,” said Thomas.

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