Sandia LabNews

Celebrating 25 years of economic development

Sandia Science and Technology Park marks major milestone

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AN INNOVATIVE IDEA — In 1998, leaders from Sandia, the city of Albuquerque and the state of New Mexico broke ground on the new Emcore building, the first tenant of the Sandia Science and Technology Park. (Photo courtesy of the Sandia Science and Technology Park)

Many of the people and companies that helped launch an innovative idea a quarter century ago came together to celebrate what that idea has become: a catalyst for economic development and technological advances.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Sandia Science and Technology Park, which sits on 340 acres just outside Kirtland Air Force Base. “Looking back, we had to start this park on this vacant dirt. At a time when the Eubank gate was the back gate to Kirtland. It was three lanes of asphalt with no curb or gutter,” said Sherman McCorkle, chairman of the SS&TP Development Corp. “As naive as we were, we had no idea what it would take.”

Twenty-five years later, the park is home to 40 businesses, schools and Sandia organizations that employ 1,800 people and pump millions of dollars of revenue into the state each year. Since its start, the park is credited with contributing nearly $7.2 billion in wages and salaries, $166 million in gross receipts tax revenue to the state of New Mexico and $36.6 million in gross receipts tax revenue to the city of Albuquerque.

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LEADING THE WAY — Sherman McCorkle, chairman of the Sandia Science and Technology Park Development Corp., shares stories of the park’s early beginnings. (Photo by Craig Fritz)

McCorkle was one of the original partners who joined the anniversary celebration on Sept. 12 at the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History. Another was Linda von Boetticher, the technology park program leader. “I am blown away; we are blown away with how many of you came to celebrate with us. This is a tremendous synergy and opportunity to come together.”

“It’s an amazing milestone of 25 years,” said Dan Sanchez, DOE Technology Partnerships manager, NNSA Sandia Field Office. “It came to our attention in the 1990s that world dynamics were changing our national security posture, and the defense programs were beginning to decline because of world conditions. It was through the leadership of the Department of Energy and with the innovation at Sandia National Labs that we came together as a community to stand up this new ecosystem of technology transfer partnerships and economic competitiveness beyond our expectations.”

Some of the companies who signed on at the beginning remain in the park, including SolAero by Rocket Lab, which started as Emcore back in 1998. Its mission has remained the same: making solar cells and panels used in space. Production manager Dennis Blake said there are a lot of benefits being in the park. “We have a direct pipeline to many of our customers. It also gives us a more technical setup with the individuals we have among us at the park and can collaborate.”

Eric Miller is another park tenant. He owns PADT Inc., which sells the tools engineers use to design products, including those at Sandia. “The No. 1 benefit is access to the staff at Sandia. After 9/11, we couldn’t just go visit them, so they could come and visit us. We can visit their engineers outside the gate. Some stop by on the way home and do a little mentoring or sit in on a demo.”

The hope is that the park will continue to grow and energize the tech industry while fulfilling Sandia’s mission. “It brings together companies that can provide services and technology to the labs. It also gives them the ability to access researchers’ facilities. It’s just right there,” said Mary Monson, senior manager of Technology Partnerships and Business Development at Sandia.

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