Niowave Facility Dedication Ceremony Draws Dignitaries

LANSING — A naval admiral, two U.S. senators and other dignitaries heralded a new NIOWAVE Inc. research facility on Tuesday as a bellwether for innovation and a potential economic boon for the state and the Lansing area.

“This is about good-paying jobs, and it’s about innovation and technology,” said U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, who was joined by fellow Michigan Democrat, U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, at a dedication ceremony in the new facility behind the company’s headquarters on North Walnut Street.

Levin called the $10 million expansion an important private, public and academic partnership that will boost national security and advance medical science.

NIOWAVE plans to use the facility to develop and test new particle accelerators for military and medical use.

The company is developing free electron lasers that convert the energy of an electron beam into laser light, a potential platform for ZOOM an anti-missile defense system. It also wants to produce radioisotopes for use in medical imaging.

“We believe the market will grow to nearly $1 billion a year,” NIOWAVE founder and President Terry Grimm said.

Rear Admiral Matthew Klunder, the U.S. Navy’s research chief, said the free electron laser could provide a defensive weapon with an “endless” magazine.

“We go all over to find those companies who will deliver,” he said. “(And) companies have to deliver at an affordable cost.”

The new 14,000-square-foot building is now mostly empty except for a huge pile of dirt.

The company on Tuesday unveiled the mock-up of a dedication plaque that will go inside the front entrance of the building on North Walnut, next to the 1930s plaque for the old Walnut Street School, which once occupied the site.