The University of California, Davis, the city of Sacramento and project developer Wexford Science and Technology today (Feb. 16) celebrated a milestone in the university’s Aggie Square project with a ceremonial groundbreaking.
Located on UC Davis’ Sacramento campus, Aggie Square is an innovation hub that brings together university research and teaching, industry and the community to create opportunities for communities across the region. It will be home to research programs, private industry partners, classrooms, student housing, and public-facing programs that engage local communities and entrepreneurs.
“Aggie Square is the ultimate ‘innovation ecosystem.’ It’s part laboratory, classroom, workplace, business incubator and community gathering place,” said Gary S. May, UC Davis chancellor. “We’re building a place where companies, researchers, students, faculty and community advocates work side by side, where cutting-edge UC Davis research powers innovative companies, and where UC Davis provides training for up-and-coming industries and for residents who live in surrounding neighborhoods.”
Aggie Square leverages UC Davis’ strengths in life sciences, technology, engineering, food, health and social impact, driven by talented faculty, undergraduate and graduate students and staff, aligned with the university’s public service mission and desire to be a partner in the community.
“I’m proud that our city has partnered with both UC Davis and our community to make Aggie Square a reality,” said Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg. “We are creating an economic center with thousands of new jobs, and the people in our neighborhoods will be the primary beneficiaries. Aggie Square stands as an example of what is possible.”
Construction on phase 1 of the project will begin this spring. This phase includes two buildings designed for science, technology and engineering and a Lifelong Learning Building dedicated to classrooms and public programs.
“Wexford values our partnership and shared vision with UC Davis to create and bring to life this once-in-a-generation opportunity on the Sacramento campus,” said James Berens, chairman and president, Wexford Science & Technology. “Aggie Square will be a dynamic, inclusive, collaborative, and impactful ecosystem merging the university, corporates, startups, the city and its citizens into an environment that is unique in character and integrated into the fabric of the community and regional innovation ecosystem. We believe the elements that are in place for Aggie Square will create a powerful economic development engine for the region and will lead to equitable opportunities for all.”
Aggie Square will address the need for additional research space in Sacramento, especially “wet lab” space for both academic and industrial use. It will help attract both government and private research funding to Sacramento and UC Davis.
An economic impact report completed in 2020 estimated that Aggie Square would add nearly $5 billion a year to the economy of the Sacramento region and generate 25,000 jobs. The construction phase will deliver an additional $2.6 billion in one-off economic impact and 15,000 job-years.
“The Aggie Square project is a significant milestone for economic development in the Sacramento region, which will continue to propel the state capital of California into a world-class science community,” Greater Sacramento Economic Council President & CEO Barry Broome said. “UC Davis’ Aggie Square mixed-used innovation district will have 1 million square feet of research, wet labs, commercial space and will help continue our efforts recruiting the best and brightest life science companies. We want to thank UC Davis Chancellor Gary May and Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg for their leadership to make this project happen, which will change the trajectory of our community forever.”
Those jobs will benefit the local community. In April 2021, UC Davis, Wexford and the city of Sacramento agreed on a Community Benefits Partnership Agreement based on three years of input from local residents. The agreement directs $50 million toward affordable housing in the neighborhood, thousands of jobs in construction and in the completed project, improvements to the Broadway and Stockton Boulevard corridors and annual funding for community projects.
UC Davis has already launched an undergraduate program for the project, Quarter at Aggie Square. Leveraging its proximity to UC Davis Health, the state capital and community organizations, this immersive program addresses topics of societal concern from multidisciplinary perspectives. The program began in fall 2020 offering “experiences” in health and educational equity and biomedical engineering. For winter quarter 2022, the class focuses on immigrants, refugees and human rights, combining campus expertise in international migration and California government with hands-on experience working with immigrant and refugee communities.
In January 2020, Aggie Square announced that the Alice Waters Institute for Edible Education would be the first tenant. Building on Waters’ Edible Schoolyard Project and UC Davis’ depth of expertise in food, nutrition and agriculture, the institute will bring together experts from across disciplines such as education, health care, agriculture, policy and business to create new solutions for healthy, sustainable and equitable food systems.