Research and business hub SmartZone nears final design for south end of CMU campus

A map rendering of the Smart ZoneDesign plans for the establishment of a SmartZone district in a 300-acre area on the south end of the Central Michigan University campus are nearing completion.

While a final plan has yet to be announced, what is certain is the goal to transform 300 acres of land into a high-tech research and industry hub, one that will attract and stimulate businesses. The SmartZone would offer research and other learning opportunities for students, and also provide them opportunities for future employment.

The SmartZone is roughly bounded by West Campus Drive to the north and Deerfield Road to the south, and Crawford Street to the west and Mission Road to the east.

"To take this space and optimize it for community and university use is great," says Steven Johnson, vice president of enrollment and student services at CMU.

"This space will compliment both life and learning, as well as benefit students and the community."

Bob Gibbs of Gibbs Planning revealed four potential designs for the SmartZone. While they offer a range of possibilities, there is an emphasis on creating a bikeable and walkable district that attracts development as well as business and employment growth to the area.

The Central Michigan University Research Corporation is tasked with screening proposed developments within the SmartZone. CMURC President and CEO Erin Strang promises high-tech growth for industry and students alike.

"We invite developers to create an experience with their concepts and projects. Not only will the SmartZone become a business hub where small businesses, community and the university converge, but a high energy development with unique attributes," Strang says.

"They’ll will have access to exceptional talent from the university, and students will receive significant real-world experience."

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