ALAMEDA, CA-California State University at Hayward is set to expand its business incubator program by 40,000 sf now that it has received a $6.44-million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration.

The university’s program, Advancing California’s Emerging Technologies, is currently in 15,000 sf. When the expansion is completed, ACET will be one of the largest business incubator facilities in the United States.

ACET representatives say the new space has yet to be determined, but among the possibilities is a 215-acre site at the former Alameda Naval Air Station, which is owned by Catellus Development Corp. Catellus is currently developing a low-income housing, retail and a business park nearby and is interested in bringing new companies to the area.

ACET is confident that it should be able to negotiate a favorable price for East Bay land, due to the unstable economy. Catellus has offered to sell the Alameda Naval site for $1.2 million, considerably less its appraisal, which came in at $3 million.

If siting and development run smoothly, the project will be up and running by 2004 with room for 40 start-up businesses. ACET’s tenants will include biotech, environmental and energy companies.

Since opening in 1998, the independent incubator has provided sub-market rents for its existing chemistry laboratories and meeting space at the Alameda Naval Air Station. The 90 companies that have been assisted by ACET have employed more than 900 people and netted more than $200 million in venture capital. The existing incubator is nearly fully occupied with 10 companies, who pay an average of $3 per sf for biotech space.

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