USTAR Innovation Center opens, 7 organizations get Boeing grants

Trent Nelson | Tribune file photo The National Ability Center in Park City received a grant from Boeing Corp. to help support its programs, including a new ropes course, that are used extensively by military veterans and their families. Six other Utah organizations got grants, too.

Boeing has given grants totaling $300,000 to seven Utah organizations that provide help for veterans and their families, advance STEM programs or boost the environment.

One of the recipients is the Park City-based National Ability Center, which got $75,000 to support its programs and services for about 1,000 transitioning military veterans and 500 of their family members annually.

Boeing grants that will help promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) programs went to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Salt Lake, the Davis and Jordan school district foundations and Utah Community Action.

Environmental grants were awarded to The Nature Conservancy and the National Forest Foundation, said Boeing Chairman Dennis Muilenburg, noting that the Utah grants were part of $50 million that was awarded to 500 nonprofit groups in 50 countries.

Meanwhile, much fanfare surrounded Friday’s opening of the USTAR Innovation Center, an incubator and prototype laboratory designed to help the array of aerospace, high-tech and outdoor companies clustered around Ogden and Hill Air Force Base.

Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox spoke at a ceremony marking the opening of the 21,000-square-foot facility at Falcon Hill Aerospace Research Park in Clearfield. He also signed a “collaborative agreement of innovation” between the state and the U.S. Air Force, which was represented by Lt. Gen. Lee Levy II.

State Sen. Jerry Stevenson, R-Layton, whose district encompasses Falcon Hill, also attended along with Ivy Estabrooke, executive director of USTAR, the state agency that promotes technology-based economic development through programs and grants encouraging research and entrepreneurship.

Early-stage companies and other technological entrepreneurs will be allowed to use the facility’s equipment and wet lab space, Estabrooke said. Mentoring also is available and users also get an opportunity to mix there with people from federal agencies, more mature companies and academic institutions, she added.

Built by R&O Construction, the Innovation Center is a project of Sunset Ridge Development Partners, a joint effort of Woodbury Corp. and Hunt Cos.