University-Industry Engagement Week

Massive Atlanta-area research hub under way, with billions to be spent and tens of thousands of jobs to be created


By David Schwartz
Published: August 2nd, 2022

A nearly 2,000-acre “knowledge community” and research hub that will cost billions of dollars to build out and is promising up to 100,000 jobs is beginning to take shape in Georgia’s  Gwinnett County, just outside Atlanta.

Known at this point simply as “Rowen,” the massive development will include offices, research facilities, public spaces, and multifamily residences with an emphasis on agriculture, medicine and the environment. Overseen by the nonprofit Rowen Foundation, the plan is to bring together public institutions and private industry to join in research aimed at solving major problems and challenges.

“We foresee research taking place on food sources, medical treatments, vaccines, climate change, renewable resources, urban ecology, etc. This includes the countless enabling technologies that power innovation in those areas, such as robotics, artificial intelligence, advanced manufacturing, biotechnology, and microelectronics,” a Rowen spokesperson said.

Gwinnett County officials are backing the project until it becomes self-sustaining and have agreed to invest more than $70 million, plus another $125 million to expand sewer and water services and trails to service the Rowen development and other parts of the county. That work is slated to begin in September. Rowen’s own infrastructure project is expected to cost $25 million and will break ground in October. The work will initially be focused on roadways, trails and utilities within the property will take approximately 12 to 18 months to complete.

Rowen expects to break ground on its Convergence Center, which will house the Rowen Foundation and provide meeting and collaboration spaces for higher education partners and others, in late 2023 or early 2024. Additional sites for development will be available in late 2023 as well, and recruitment of tenants is ongoing.

Project construction costs are expected to reach $1.1 billion by 2035, $3.4 billion by 2050 and nearly $7 billion by full buildout. Rowen is estimated to generate $3.8 billion in economic activity by 2035, $6.6 billion by 2050 and $11.3 billion by full buildout. Planners expect 18,500 jobs to be created by 2035, 55,000 by 2050, and from 80,000 to 100,000 by the time the project is fully completed.

Rowen leaders are working with the Georgia State Department for Economic Development and have identified several prospects to locate at the site.

“We have seen interest from companies representing a variety of fields that would require office space as well as lab, technology and prototyping facilities,” the spokesperson said. “We would also like to see formal connections between the companies we recruit and our universities in ways that further experimental learning opportunities, accelerate speed to market and research commercialization.”

Source: Commercial Property Executive

Posted under: University-Industry Engagement Week