RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN)—A North Carolina coalition is one of 21 winners of the $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge, according to the White House.
The Accelerate NC-Life Sciences Manufacturing coalition will receive roughly $25 million to “strengthen its life sciences manufacturing cluster by investing in a more robust pipeline of biotech talent across the state and expanding those opportunities to underserved and historically excluded communities,” according to officials.
The Build Back Better Regional Challenge is funded through the American Rescue Plan, White House officials stated.
Challenge winners are given “funding to rebuild regional economies, promote inclusive and equitable recovery, and create thousands of good-paying jobs in industries of the future such as clean energy, next-generation manufacturing, and biotechnology,” a White House release said.
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo shared how this will help to invest and grow key industries and diverse communities in the United States.
“As we invest and grow critical industries in the U.S., we want to create industry hubs in diverse communities across the country. These grants will provide critical and historic funding directly to community coalitions to invest in new infrastructure, research and development, and workforce development programs while creating good-paying jobs, supporting workers, and prioritizing equity,” Raimondo said.
The Accelerate NC-Life Sciences Manufacturing coalition project will focus on expanding “entry-level biotechnology training programs at 10 community colleges across the state,” according to officials.
North Carolina Central University is involved, and officials said it will lead “a network of the state’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities and one Historically American Indian University to establish 6 training hubs targeted at these underserved populations.”
Those involved in the coalition will be creating an ambassador and mentorship program as well. The goal is to “break down barriers to careers in the industry and set an example for prioritizing equity alongside economic growth,” officials shared.
And Bill Bullock, NCBiotech’s senior vice president for economic development and statewide operations, shared how this help North Carolina to have a more diverse workforce.
“This is a huge win for North Carolina’s citizens, businesses, and economy as it will take our state’s life sciences manufacturing capability to the next level,” said Bullock. “This award will enable us to attract and develop a more diverse workforce to manufacture vaccines, gene and cell therapies, antibodies, and other medicines. Enabling greater equity for our underserved populations as well as those in distressed and rural communities is essential. We are grateful to the EDA, our state leaders, including the Governor and the General Assembly’s bipartisan Life Sciences Caucus, the NC Biosciences Organization, and the many community, university, and industry partners that contributed to this transformative project.”
For more information on the Build Back Better Regional Challenge, click here.