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ISU board OKs leasing uptown space for startup incubator

ISU board OKs leasing uptown space for startup incubator


NORMAL — The Illinois State University board of trustees on Friday authorized leasing space in uptown Normal for a startup business incubator.

The lease is for 10,418 square feet in the Trail East Building to be built at Uptown Circle and Constitution Boulevard by Bush Construction. The initial five-year lease calls for payments not to exceed $14,000 per month.

The lease includes a tenant improvement allowance of about $781,350 for customization of the new space. ISU also will be responsible for operational costs of about $110,000 per year for such things as common area maintenance, property taxes and utilities.

The university is pursuing grants to help pay for the incubator project. If the grants are received, it would give the university the option to prepare the tenant improvement allowance and receive a reduced lease rate.

The five-year lease includes an option to renew for an additional five years.

ISU President Larry Dietz said having a dedicated space will bring entrepreneurs and startups to the community, and will simultaneously build student skills and enhance community development.

Dietz said many students already have small startup businesses when they come to ISU or are interested in entrepreneurship. This will attract more of them and is also “another way to showcase the university and faculty," he said.

In other business at Friday's meeting, President Larry Dietz reported that the university is expecting a record number of incoming new students this fall.

Enrollment deposits are 4 percent ahead of last year at this time. After the meeting, Dietz said that nearly 4,000 new students are expected to enroll this fall, with total enrollment likely to be close to 21,000.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, two people spoke on the ongoing negotiations between the university and two union locals representing building service workers, grounds workers, campus dining workers, clerical staff, library staff and healthcare staff.

Locals 110 and 3236 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees have been working under terms of a contract that expired a year ago.

Renee Nestler, an AFSCME Council 31 staff representative, told the board “many of our members do not make a living wage.”

She said employees at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign doing similar work with the same titles, civil service tests and qualifications are paid $1.50 to $3 more per hour.

Trish Gudeman, an office support specialist in the sociology and anthropology department who has worked at ISU for seven years, said the biggest complaint she has heard is about new people being hired at higher wages than those who have been at ISU for years.

After the meeting, Dietz said, “We value those employees” and he has confidence “in our leadership and their leadership to reach an agreement.”

Representatives of both locals met with university negotiators last week but another bargaining session isn't scheduled until later in August, according to Nestler.

Contact Lenore Sobota at (309) 820-3240. Follow her on Twitter: @Pg_Sobota


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