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Leaders Discuss How To Build NC's Biopharmaceutical Industry

RTP headquarters.
Ildar Sagdejev

GlaxoSmithKline hosted a gathering today in RTP for policy, non-profit and business leaders in the biopharmaceutical industry.

Jack Bailey, a Senior Vice President at GSK, says there are well over 100,000 North Carolinians working in the Life Sciences, 5,000 of them at his company.

“So it’s a very big important industry, it’s created a lot of jobs," Bailey says. "And really what we want to do today is start a discussion on how, at this great change in health care, we can make sure both federal, state and local policy decisions get made that continue to accelerate that innovation that comes out of companies like GSK.”

Terry Costello is President and COO of Yonkers Industries in Cary.  The construction management company was bought earlier this year by Swiss firm, Foster Wheeler AG.  Costello says they have had to look abroad for growth.  He says the down economy has brought much competition.

"So we just have to re-tool, I think," Costello says.  "We need some energy, passion and aggressiveness because other states have caught up with us, if you will, and are doing a lot of things to lure companies."

U.S. Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC) and State House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg) were both scheduled to address the gathering.  Hagan told reporters, if you include all aspects of Bio-Pharma, North Carolina is looking at more than 220,000 jobs.

"It's a $50 billion dollar enterprise," Hagan says.  "I think we have to look back to the history, this started as a public-private partnership, under the leadership of former Governor Jim Hunt, to really invest state dollars with private dollars with this Biotech Center."

Meanwhile, many state-funded programs and non-profit organizations are experiencing major cuts in funding or were even eliminated in the new state budget.   The NC Biotechnology Center received less than it requested in the budget. 

Leoneda Inge is WUNC’s race and southern culture reporter, the first public radio journalist in the South to hold such a position. She also is co-host of the podcast Tested and host of the special podcast series, PAULI. Leoneda is the recipient of numerous awards from AP, RTDNA and NABJ. She’s been a reporting fellow in Berlin and Tokyo. You can follow her on Twitter @LeonedaInge.
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