Officials ask state to invest in UO research complex

EUGENE — The mayor of the city of Eugene and Lane County Commissioner Sid Leiken are urging state lawmakers to approve $100 million in immediate financing for a proposed University of Oregon scientific research facility.

Mayor Lucy Vinis and University of Oregon President Michael Schill went to Salem this week to ask state lawmakers to finance part of the complex before the end of the legislative session, The Register-Guard reported.

Nike co-founder Phil Knight and his wife have pledged to donated $500 million over a 10-year period for the Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact. It is the largest donation awarded to the university, Schill said.

The state money would match a portion of the Knight donation. The university is raising the rest of the money from other sources.

The university has acquired all the land it needs for the proposed 75,000 square-foot (6967 square meter) facility, according to the report. The university expects to break ground on the campus by this fall.

The Knight Campus will create 750 jobs for lead scientists, lab workers and others, according to university officials.

Vinis believes the high-tech campus would boost the city's tech industry.

"It's on a scale that we haven't been able to engineer before," she said.

Gov. Kate Brown has said that she supports the project, but would like the $100 million to be distributed in three budget cycles over six years. Vinis and Commissioner Sid Leiken are asking the state to give the full amount.

Although the university is not directly competing with any other entity for state funding approval, Knight Director Patrick Phillips, who has been travelling to Salem regularly, said it's "always easy not to spend money."

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