Seegrid Corp. and the Chocolate Factory
After sitting vacant for more than a year, the Regional Industrial Development Corp.’s robotics center in Lawrenceville has its first tenant.
Seegrid Corp., a developer of automated material handling systems for manufacturers, warehouses and distribution centers, agreed Wednesday to lease 3,500 square feet of space from the RIDC in the Chocolate Factory, a large structure that was created to spur growth in the region’s robotics industry.
“It’s a good move for my company, and it’s good for what we want to do. We intend to be there for a long time,” said Scott Friedman, chairman and CEO of Seegrid, a 30-month old, privately held company that employs 10 workers.
Friedman expects Seegrid’s move from its current location in Point Breeze to the Chocolate Factory to be complete by February. The Chocolate Factory, formerly the home of Geoffrey Boehme Chocolates, is adjacent to the Carnegie Mellon University National Robotics Engineering Consortium building, a hub of robotic research and development within the region.
“This is a wonderful start, and it’s significant they’ve (Seegrid Corp.) chosen this location. Hopefully, this will serve as a catalyst to create a groundswell,” said F. Brooks Robinson, Jr., vice president of the RIDC.
Robinson expressed hope that the RIDC’s redevelopment of the Chocolate Factory, and ongoing remediation of the 14-acre former Heppenstall Co. plant, would evolve into a cluster of advanced manufacturing and robotics that would stimulate that sector, and validate Pittsburgh as one of the premiere locations for robotics research and development.
Additionally, Robinson said the project is part of the state’s new Keystone Innovation Zone, a cornerstone of Gov. Ed Rendell’s economic stimulus initiative that provides economic incentives to certain companies locating within the targeted area.
Robinson said the Chocolate Factory, which has about 60,000 square feet of space, has plenty of room to accommodate more tenants. “We’re talking to a number of companies, hopefully they’ll come and take a look,” said Robinson, who declined to divulge their identities.