“My advice to you is to be aggressive and be bold. Let’s just keep going forward.” – Gov. Mike Easley to Biotech steering committee.
_____________________________________________________________________A full-court press is about to be launched on Jones Street in Downtown Raleigh.

A press of lobbying, that is. Not basketball.

Urged on by the current governor and two men who have sat in the governor’s chair, the steering committee driving the strategic growth plan for biotechnology in North Carolina is promising to be aggressive in seeking financial support for a long list of priorities from the General Assembly in January.

The initiative called for $390 million in support when the plan was unveiled earlier this year.

The group gathered for the NC Biotech Center called a “pep talk” and meeting on Tuesday at the Biotechnology Center. Gov. Mike Easley and former Governors Jim Hunt and Jim Martin on hand. Easley commissioned the “New Jobs Across North Carolina: A Strategic Plan for growing the Economy Statewide Through Biotechnology.”

The news media was not invited to the meeting so that “committee members felt free to say anything they wanted without having it recorded by the media,” a spokesperson for the Biotech Center told LTW. The only media coverage allowed was for Easley’s remarks.

Easley told the committee “to be aggressive and to be bold”.

The plan outlines 54 strategies for creation of 125,000 jobs, workforce training and improved education, with 48,000 jobs generated by 2013.

Some key objectives

Among its goals for spending through 2009 are:

  • $25 to $50 million a year from state pension and escheat funds in biotech startups

  • $33 million to develop a statewide network of research centers focused on key regional resources.

  • $25 million for the state commerce department to promote NC biotech.

  • $19 million to replenish the Biotech Center’s economic development fund.

  • $15 million annually in the One North Carolina Fund used to recruit industry to the state.

  • $15 million to fund continuing education programs at community colleges.

  • $11 million to support early-stage applied research through Biotech Center grants.

  • $10 million a year to endow university faculty and create a general fund for faculty startup packages.

  • $6 million beginning in 2006 and $12 million more for the next three years to continue funds for the Biomanufacturing and Pharmaceutical Training Consortium.

  • $500,000 to $1 million a year to survey the needs of biomanufacturing and life science companies in the state.

  • $250,000 annually to market NC to national and international venture capitalists.

  • $200,000 a year to establish an entrepreneur in residence program at universities.
  • ‘On the right track’

    The committee said in a statement that “continued success” in biotech development would “depend largely on securing additional state investment” from the General Assembly.

    “We are on the right track, but we’ve got much to do,” Hunt told the group.

    Hunt and Martin are co-chairs of the committee. Other members include Molly Broad, president of the University of North Carolina System, and Billy Ray Hall, president of the NC Rural Economic Development Center.

    Strategic biotech plan: www.ncbiotech.org/strategicplan/