CatalystThe O’Neil Group Company has been focusing its effort in downtown Colorado Springs for years, but the firm is poised to initiate its biggest project in 2015 with what it calls the Catalyst Campus.

The company, owned and operated by Colorado Springs businessman Kevin O’Neil, specializes in acquiring companies, streamlining their operations and moving them to the Springs (or relocating Springs companies to the city’s core).

“Our plan for this year in Colorado Springs is to continue the placement of companies into the downtown corridor, both from acquisitions and the relocation to downtown of existing companies,” O’Neil said. “Business as usual.”

Thus far, O’Neil has acquired 23 companies that provide an average salary of $80,000 annually and maintain a 25 percent job creation rate each year.

The company also owns five buildings in downtown Colorado Springs, including its headquarters at the corner of Tejon Street and Pikes Peak Avenue. Within that building, O’Neil shares a level with Braxton Science and Technology Group, its own locally based defense contractor and aerospace firm.

O’Neil is planning a big year for his company, complete with the beginning of the Catalyst Campus project on the eastern edge of downtown. The campus, according to O’Neil’s plans, will be an urban core for innovation and tech companies set upon a 6.5-acre property that once played host to the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad Passenger Depot.

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Plans for the “innovation district,” located near the intersection of Pikes Peak and Colorado Avenues, include the renovation of the property’s three structures (totaling 97,000 square feet) and the construction of another 50,000-square-foot building to make room for around 200 companies, which O’Neil hopes will work together in the collaborative environment. He said the goal of the project is to bolster the city’s technology and engineering industries in a downtown setting, creating jobs and uplifting the economy.

“High-end job growth continues to be our mission,” O’Neil said.

The company most recently completed the acquisition of a tech firm that will be integrated with Braxton, and O’Neil said he is currently negotiating the purchase of several more companies in the coming year.

“We plan to see continued growth and to focus on Colorado Springs and on the downtown corridor … in order to build a stronger community,” he said.

Demolition and renovation efforts should begin on the campus this month, he said, with construction of the new building beginning later this year.