Construction is set to begin this summer on Appalachian State University’s Innovation District in Boone. It's one of several capital projects totaling $270 million including additional faculty and staff housing.

The new project will feature a Conservatory for Biodiversity Education and Research with goals to spur federal research grant opportunities, and cross-discipline collaboration between App State and K-12 schools. The district may also provide partnership opportunities between the university and regional businesses — providing assets for local industries.

Another economic impact will be on workforce housing with the creation of nearly 160 new units for faculty and staff. Director of Economic Development for the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce Joe Furman says lack of affordable housing is particularly acute in the High Country with inflated home values from second home construction and high rents due to the demand that exists for student housing.

"Just for average people trying to buy a house or rent a place it's tough," says Furman. "So, how that has affected institutions and organizations such as the university or the hospital, some of our other larger employers and Board of Education, is people have tentatively accepted jobs, looked for housing, couldn't find it, [and] had to turn the job down."

Furman says housing construction is scheduled to begin soon with hopes of completion within roughly two years. The entire Innovation District project will take place on the App State campus over the next six years.

*Correction: A previous version of this web story indicated that the $270 million figure correlated to Appalachian State University's Innovation District. The Innovation District is one of several capital projects, and the $270 million is for all capital projects at ASU over the next six years.

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