ST. GEORGE — Plans are moving forward to turn the site of the old St. George airport into a tech mecca for Southern Utah.
The St. George City Council approved the selection of a developer Thursday to construct what is being called “Tech Ridge” on approximately 30 acres in an area north of the new Dixie Technical College campus, formerly Dixie Applied Technology College, on the Ridge Top Complex.
“The plan is to build a really incredible environment that’s a work-live-play development that takes advantage of an extensive park and creative environment that can really attract and retain top talent in the area,” Isaac Barlow said.
Barlow is CEO of St. George-based tech firm busybusy and a managing member of Tech Ridge, LLC, the developer chosen to build Tech Ridge.
Plans for the development include space for buildings housing multiple tech companies surrounded by residential neighborhoods, restaurants and hotels.
“We view it as an extension of the downtown,” Mayor Jon Pike said, adding that amenities like parks and trails will also be incorporated into the development.
The new Dixie Tech campus will serve as the centerpiece for the anticipated technology park in hopes of drawing more technology-based businesses to Southern Utah.
“We’d like to have this really be another mecca for technology firms,” Pike said, “and that would mean more jobs and higher paying jobs, and we believe we desperately need that for now and the future.
“The desire is and the plan is that this would enable tech businesses – including biotech – to locate all in a common vicinity.”
Such an approach, Pike said, is likely to attract new companies to the area where employees can work and play synergistically, regardless of their company affiliation.
“It’s not limited to just tech,” Barlow said, “but we have a tech-focus because it’s basically fulfilling a need that busybusy and the other tech companies have in town of creating a really great environment to attract the kind of workers and retain the workers that we need to the area.”
Southern Utah-based tech companies are growing substantially and in need of additional space for their personnel.
“There are a couple of local firms who will be involved in this who are bursting at the seams at their current locations, and they want to do something different – not just an office building,” Pike said, “they want to do something that fits their culture.”
Given the need to grow, busybusy and St. George-based Printer Logic, among other interested companies, are looking to get something built as soon as possible.
“We’d love to see the first building constructed in the first year,” Pike said. “I hope we’ll see a building complete by January of 2019 or somewhere close to that.”
Before any plans can actually go forward, a development agreement will need to be approved by the city and the full details of the project’s plans and pricing made public.
“Once the proposal is made and comes back, the public will get all of this information in detail so that it will be very transparent and clear exactly what’s taking place,” Councilman Ed Baca said.
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