For 40 years, the General Tire & Rubber Co. was one of the largest employers in Waco — up until industry changes led to the plant’s closing in 1985. For most of the past 25 years, the company’s 2 million-square-foot facility sat dormant just up I-35 from Baylor.
Friday, plans were announced to turn the long-shuttered manufacturing plant into a 21st-century research collaborative, as Baylor officials were joined by Texas State Technical College administrators as well as state, county and city leaders in introducing the creation of the Central Texas Research and Technology Park. The park’s first project will be the Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative (BRIC), which will be housed in General Tire’s former main building; Waco leader Clifton Robinson donated the facility to Baylor for this project. (See renderings of the building here.)
Baylor engineering will benefit greatly from the additional opportunities BRIC affords; most notably, the expanded research capabilities will allow the University to offer the program’s first doctoral degree. Faculty and students will be able to partner with both high-profile and start-up companies on researching new ideas. In the process, Central Texas stands to gain hundreds of white-collar jobs in the short term and thousands more jobs in the long term. Waco economist Ray Perryman, BS ’74, forecasts the park will generate $1.5 to 4.2 billion in economic impact in the first 15 years, while creating between 8,000 and 22,000 jobs.
As seen in projects like BRIC and the Waco Mammoth Site, it’s amazing what can be accomplished when Baylor and the local community get together. I can’t wait to see what new ideas and opportunities Baylor students receive from this initiative!
Sic ’em, BRIC!