FOREST, Va. -

The Center for Advanced Engineering and Research is a hub for high-tech development.

Since opening in 2011, engineers from all over the world have come to the facility to test and create new technology.

"The Center for Advanced Engineering and Research really fills a need in our region," said Traci Blido, Bedford County's director of economic development.

The CAER provides laboratory space, and connections to major research universities that wouldn't otherwise be available in the Lynchburg area.

One of the building's major tenants is Babcock and Wilcox (B&W), which uses the facility to test a small model nuclear reactor known as mPower.

Last week B&W announced it was scaling back its mPower program, and possibly shutting down its research facility at the CAER.

"We do not know yet what the long-term plans are going to be," said Blido, who adds that she is watching the situation closely.

As a tenant at the CAER, B&W invests a minimum of $60,000 to $70,000 annually into the facility.

If the company pulls its mPower staff out of the center, it may leave other engineers stationed there to work on other projects.

"We look for them to continue to do some sort of research and testing in that facility, whether it be for this business unit or others," Blido said.

The center has several other tenants including NanoTouch, a company that creates self-cleaning surfaces.

Those organizations, along with grants and government funding, would keep the facility open.

"That facility is here for our region, to fill a niche that we did have previously," Blido said.  "That does not change."

Blido said companies inquire about space at the CAER all the time.  While she's hoping B&W will stay, she feels confident that another major tenant could be brought in to fill the empty space if the company leaves.