NACOGDOCHES, Texas –– Stephen F. Austin State University’s Center for Applied Research and Rural Innovation will take a landmark step toward rural innovation in the deep East Texas region with the addition of the center’s new research facility. To celebrate this milestone, CARRI will host a groundbreaking ceremony at 1:30 p.m. June 18 at the location of the facility, 7308 U.S. Highway 59 N. 

“We are thrilled to introduce the university and deep East Texas communities to this new facility, which will help further CARRI’s mission to collaborate with education, industry and community to advance growth in the region,” said Mary Ann Rojas, CARRI executive director. 

Located at SFA’s former Science Research Center and set to complete reconstruction in spring 2025, the facility covers approximately 15 acres and will serve as a hub for SFA resources to the deep East Texas region. Areas of particular value in the facility are industry training rooms, visiting faculty and partner offices, advanced manufacturing space, and 3D printers. Classroom space, a cyber lounge and conference room space will be available to the SFA and deep East Texas communities. It also will serve as headquarters for CARRI staff members. 

The facility was made possible by two grants awarded by the U.S. Economic Development Administration in 2021 and 2023.

In 2021, SFA received a $2.5 million grant from the EDA, along with approximately $900,000 in local funds strictly for facility construction.  

The grant awarded in 2023 was part of the University Center Economic Development Program Competition, which provided a total of $16.5 million in grants to 23 colleges and universities in 14 states to administer programs that leverage their assets, promote innovation and strengthen regional economies. SFA receives $130,000 annually for five years beginning in the 2023 fiscal year.

Along with the ceremonial groundbreaking, the event also will offer networking opportunities and refreshments. Additionally, Dr. Neal Weaver, SFA president, along with federal and state representatives are slated to speak. 

Those interested in attending are asked to dress comfortably for an outdoor event. In the case of inclement weather, the ceremony will be moved to an on-site covered canopy.

SFA established CARRI in fall 2021 to engage faculty, staff and students in research projects that support academic programs and boost regional economic development. Since its establishment, the university has awarded numerous scholarships to rural SFA students and stipends to faculty members for innovative research projects. It also was rated the top rural-serving higher education institution in Texas by The Alliance for Research on Regional Colleges in 2022.

For more information about CARRI, visit the website.

Stephen F. Austin State University, the newest member of The University of Texas System, began a century ago as a teachers’ college in Texas’ oldest town, Nacogdoches. Today, it has grown into a regional institution comprising six colleges — business, education, fine arts, forestry and agriculture, liberal and applied arts, and sciences and mathematics. Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, SFA enrolls approximately 11,000 students while providing the academic breadth of a state university with the personalized attention of a private school. The main campus encompasses 421 acres that include 37 academic facilities, nine residence halls, and 68 acres of recreational trails that wind through its six gardens. The university offers more than 80 bachelor’s degrees, more than 40 master’s degrees and four doctoral degrees covering more than 120 areas of study. Learn more at the SFA website