GRAND FORKS, N.D. — The Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) at the University of North Dakota (UND) is on track to achieve another record-setting year. For the fourth consecutive year in a row, EERC contract awards have increased to record levels – FY06 contract award totals are projected to total more than $42 million.
“The EERC is celebrating the most incredible success we have seen in our 19 years,” said EERC Director Gerald Groenewold.
Over the past 4 years, contract activities have shown a dramatic upward trend. In FY03, EERC contract awards totaled $18 million, and in FY04, contract awards totaled more than $26 million. In FY05, the EERC had a record 405 active contracts totaling $29 million, 83% of them with private sector clients. The EERC had 15 patent applications in FY05 and has made 10 additional patent applications within the first six months of the current fiscal year.
“Our success is a result of having practical, honorable people working hard and working smart in an entrepreneurial culture – none of this is by chance,” said Groenewold. “The EERC has strategically positioned itself over the past two decades to address the world’s most critical energy and environmental issues. With overwhelming support from industry and federal partners, the North Dakota congressional delegation, the state of North Dakota, and the city of Grand Forks, the EERC research portfolio now totals more than $110 million.”
In FY05, the EERC generated $73.3 million in economic impact on the Grand Forks region. Based on the EERC’s projected spending rate of over $40 million within the next 2 years, and applying the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Regional Input-Output Modeling System II formula, the EERC will soon be supporting nearly 1200 direct and indirect jobs in the Grand Forks region.
The EERC employs more than 280 scientists, engineers, and support personnel, including 20 full-time equivalent positions supported elsewhere at UND. Currently, the EERC has 18 new open positions with an average starting salary of more than $63,000 per year plus benefits.
“We anticipate having approximately 320 employees by the end of 2007, and we expect dramatic growth over the next several years. Our goal is to have over 500 employees within the next 5 years,” said Groenewold.
For this to occur, the EERC is planning to construct several new facilities. The first is a 15,000-square-foot facility for hydrogen-related research under the EERC’s National Center for Hydrogen Technology (NCHT). Groundbreaking for the $3 million building is set for April 2006.
Groenewold added, “The EERC’s unique culture is bringing enormous high-quality job opportunities to the state of North Dakota and providing considerable opportunities for new spin-offs in manufacturing and other high-tech businesses.”