A smart mobility incubator ‘on steroids’


Union County is in line to receive $1.5 million to create what officials are calling the Automotive and Mobility Innovation Center (AMIC).
The Union County Community Improvement Corporation (CIC) requested $2.1 million to construct a 20,000-square-foot educational and entrepreneurial facility as part of the 33 Innovation Park in Marysville. State officials approved $1.5 million for the project as part of the state’s capital budget.
“We are very, very happy with $1.5 million because this helps really make this happen,” said Eric Phillips, Union County Economic Development director.
He said the center would be a “think tank” on the smart mobility industry, adding it would be “an entrepreneurship type of incubator on steroids.”
Officials said the AMIC will house an entrepreneurial center and business incubator, office and co-working space for emerging companies as well as state agencies, a testing lab, a data center, space for k-12 and higher education institution and a display area to promote and educate citizens on smart mobility. An additional potential component of the AMIC includes space dedicated for Traffic Management System Operations for the Ohio Department of Transportation.
Officials said that given the amount of data generated by mobility testing, the AMIC will feature “an on-site, secure data center to house Internet services for governmental organizations and for existing and future companies along the corridor.” The center is expected to offer cloud storage, disaster recovery and floor space for partner and tenant data equipment.
“These amenities will allow our partners and tenants to stay connected to automotive and smart mobility development efforts and research activity on-going around the world and share best practices, conduct research, collect data and develop commercialization processes, and develop model policies,” according to information used to secure the funding.
While the state will pay $1.5 million, the overall price tag is estimated at $3.9 million. Phillips said that as part of that, the City of Marysville would donate land inside the Innovation Park. That land donation is estimated at $560,000 with an additional $201,300 of infrastructure development pledged. Phillips said there are two potential sites within the Innovation Park — one on Industrial Parkway and the other on U.S. 33.
According to information sent to the state, partners as well as developers who could collect rent from tenants would pay the remainder of the cost for the center.
Phillips said the CIC has already hired a firm to begin designing the center.
“It is anticipated that the construction of the AMIC will be completed within 18 to 21 months upon the awarding of funding,” according to information used to secure the state funding.
Phillips acknowledged the timeline as “aggressive” but said that two years ago the idea of a smart-mobility corridor was just an unfunded idea.
“I think things have changed dramatically in the last two years, so I think anything is possible,” Phillips said.
Phillips said the idea for the center was developed during a trip to the Netherlands. He said he visited a region with two such centers and realized there was nothing locally to take advantage of the emerging smart mobility business and research corridor.
“The city and county will work closely with our partners: Ohio Department of Transportation, JobsOhio, Transportation Research Center Inc. (TRC), The Ohio State University, Battelle and Honda of America Mfg., Inc. (Honda), to make the AMIC a world leader in information, research, commercialization, modeling and best practices in the automotive and smart mobility sectors,” according to the funding request document.
Phillips said the site will draw clients from around the world because manufacturers will be able to use the lab to test products, then bring them onto the connected streets of Marysville and U.S. 33 for further testing.
“It will all work together quite well,” said Phillips.
He said the center will be ideal for automotive start-up companies.
“The Automotive and Smart Mobility Center will become the new ‘think tank’ of automotive companies (existing and new), who will work together to advance emerging technologies in the automotive industry, thereby recognizing Ohio as the world leader,” according to information submitted to the state. “The AMIC will attract entrepreneurs and foster the growth of start-ups across a variety of automotive, data and smart mobility-related sectors. These entrepreneurs and start-ups will receive support, business coaching and mentoring services through the CIC and the Marysville Entrepreneurial Center (MEC), which has been serving the Union County community since 2010.”
Phillips said the MEC, which services more traditional entrepreneurs, will continue. He said that while the CIC is looking for a management group to run the AMIC, it has learned some lessons that will carry over.
“You have to be flexible,” Phillips said. “Whatever you do, you need to be flexible. These are all unique businesses with different needs and if you aren’t flexible, you aren’t going to be very effective or successful.”

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