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ISU seeks to start up new business incubator in Uptown Normal

NORMAL, Ill. (WEEK) — Several tenants already have their eyes set on the upcoming Trail East development in Uptown Normal.

Last month, the Normal Town Council got its first look at the proposed design for the $30 million, five-story mixed-use space on Normal’s Uptown Circle from the Davenport, Iowa-based Bush Construction.

On Monday, Bush said it it in talks with Illinois State University to lease space on the fourth floor for a new startup incubator space to facilitate the creation and growth of small businesses with ties to the university and its alumni.

“I am especially excited about the possibility of partnering with ISU,” said Ryan Welborn, Project Manager for Bush Construction, and an ISU alumnus himself.

ISU’s Small Business Development Incubator closed in 2016 amid the state’s two-year budget impasse, which held up state funds for higher education. The SBDI moved to Illinois Wesleyan in 2017.

Architectural firm Farnsworth Group also plans to relocate its headquarters to Trail East, occupying 25,000 square feet on the third floor. Customer service company Afni also plans to move into the new building.

Bush said they are also finalizing an agreement with a yet-to-be disclosed multi-national technology company to lease 5,800 square feet on the fourth floor. The building is also expected to house residential space.

About 200 construction jobs will be created during the building phase, Bush said. About 400 people are projected to work out of the building when construction is complete.

On Monday, the town also announced the Illinois Art Station is seeking to move from ISU to a town-owned building in Uptown Normal.

Several older buildings owned by the town of Normal will be demolished to make way for Trail East. The destruction of a community mural painted on one of the buildings has caused controversy among locals who wished to preserve the work of art. Town officials say there is no way to save the mural.

Tim Shelley

Social Media & Digital Content Manager

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