The North Carolina Biotechnology Center will get a $10 million haircut in each of the next two years under Gov. Pat McCrory’s proposed budget.
The proposed cut to the Biotech Center’s current $17.2 million annual state appropriation would leave the center with just $7.2 million a year for its operations and programs, which include providing loans and grants to support startup biotech companies.
Norris Tolson, president and CEO of the Biotech Center, said in a statement that the proposed budget would force the Biotech Center to use previously committed resources to continue its daily operations and could threaten the center’s mission to support what has remained a growing economic sector in the state despite the downturn.
“Such use of these reserves would cause us to default on our commitments to startup companies, research and development grants, economic development opportunities and education projects all across North Carolina,” Tolson said in the statement.
McCrory said Wednesday that he is committed to supporting long-term economic growth. His proposed $20.6 billion budget resumes funding for the One North Carolina Small Business Program, a program that helps small businesses get competitive federal funding through matching funds. Also included in the budget is $76.2 million over two years for the Job Development Investment Grant (JDIG). That money will cover past obligations made to companies who qualified for economic incentives if they meet job creation targets. The budget also commits $14 million to the Job Maintenance and Capital Development (JMAC) program, which encourages businesses to keep high paying jobs and large-scale capital investments in the state.
The Biotech Center offers its own programs to support entrepreneurs and startup companies in pharmaceuticals and agricultural biotechnology. Tolson cautioned that Biotech Center cuts could stifle or force the cancellation of life science projects planned or already under way in North Carolina. He added that Biotech Center cuts could make North Carolina less competitive in terms of its ability to attract biotech companies to the state.
“Competing states are investing heavily to create the infrastructure and support systems that North Carolina already has,” Tolson said.
“We hope that the members of the General Assembly will continue to work with us, as they have for the past 29 years, and support the Center’s efforts to grow and expand the high paying jobs in the biotechnology and life sciences sector all across North Carolina.”