Univ. of Delaware, Penn State, Lehigh U. snag federal funds to boost local economic growth

The University of Delaware's STAR Campus in Newark helps connect students, teachers and researchers with partners in commercial industry and the community. (Mark Eichmann/WHYY)

The University of Delaware's STAR Campus in Newark helps connect students, teachers and researchers with partners in commercial industry and the community. (Mark Eichmann/WHYY)

The Spin In center at the University of Delaware is all about problem solving. If a local business is struggling with launching a product, getting the design right, or even marketing themselves better, UD students at the Spin In program are here to help.

UD officials hope more businesses will be able to harness that help from students across multiple areas of study thanks to more than $500,000 in funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

The EDA’s Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Castillo announced $2.5 million in grant funding to 25 colleges and universities at UD’s STAR Campus Friday morning.

“These institutions of higher education will provide critical technical assistance to support regional efforts to boost innovation, create good jobs, good paying jobs and ensure economic competitiveness across our country, especially to increase our competitiveness globally,” she said.

Penn State will get $100,000 and Lehigh University in Bethlehem will get $75,000 to support economic development programs on their campuses.

Castillo said the economic development funding fits in with the Biden Administration’s “Build Back Better” initiative. She says economic development covers a multitude of areas from infrastructure, water treatment, sewage, workforce development, innovation and on and on.

“If there’s a moment in our nation’s history where we really have to start thinking big and making those, as they call it, big bets, this is the time,” she said.

UD’s STAR Campus, which hosts the Spin In program, connects academics and researchers with partners in commercial industry and the community.

U.S. Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware says the site is a great example of innovative solutions to economic problems. The newest section of UD’s campus was built on the site of a Chrysler assembly plant which shut down at the end of 2008 after nearly 60 years of producing cars.

U.S. Sen. Tom Carper (D- Delaware) applauds as Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Castillo announces $2.5 million in grant funding to 25 colleges and university at the University of Delaware in Newark Friday morning. (Mark Eichmann/WHYY)

“We are witnessing an amazing transformation of this place,” he said. “If we don’t already, we’ll soon have more than 3,000 people working here, climbing beyond that. We’ll have more people working here than ever worked at the Chrysler plant in good-paying jobs.”

With more than a million feet of teaching, industrial and clinical space on 272 acres, the STAR Campus is already home to a research and development hub for the chemical company Chemours, which spun out of DuPont in 2015. It’s also home to digital infrastructure management firm SevOne’s technology and innovation center, as well as a fuel cell manufacturing center for Bloom Energy.

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