Plan to Build a Biotechnology Facility
State and local
leaders and UNC Pembroke scientists are cooking up a plan to lure the
growing biotechnology industry to the region.
The university announced
plans Feb. 15 to construct a million dollar bio-processing or fermentation
facility at COMtech., a nearby education, research and technology park.
The facility would serve both university and commercial researchers
and attract manufacturing jobs in the biotechnology industry to the
A fermentation lab
is used to process cells for use in research and manufacturing of drugs,
agricultural and other products. North Carolina now ranks fifth in the
nation in biotechnology with 140 companies, and the industry is growing
at a rate of 10-15 percent annually.
Allen C. Meadors said the planned research facility is another way the
university can assist its students and the region.
"We want to
grow this university in every way possible, and we want our graduates
to have good jobs right here in the region," Chancellor Allen C.
Meadors said. "UNCP has the best undergraduate research program
of any public university in the nation, and biotechnology is where jobs
are being created."
Attending the day-long
conference were representatives of the North Carolina Biotechnology
Center (NCBC), education and political leaders from the region. It was
hosted by UNCP's Biology and Chemistry departments and the Regional
Center for Economic Development.
"UNCP has been
in the field of biotechnology for 10 years thanks to $1 million in investments
from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, and we are ready to take
this most important next step," said Dr. Len Holmes, professor
of chemistry. "We have the staff, the students and resources to
make this vision a reality."
Dr. Holmes revealed
facility concept plans of a 4,800 sq. ft. building that is to be located
on a two-acre site. He said a processing facility could be complete
within three years of breaking ground and become self-sustaining financially
in 5-6 years.
"The main focus
of the facility will be the education and training of our undergraduates,
but there are many attractive spin-off possibilities with the community
colleges and private industry," he said. "It is estimated
that demand for biomanufacturing capacity will exceed current supply
by a factor of four times by 2005, a recent report by J.P. Morgan Bank
The COMtech. site,
between Lumberton and Pembroke, is already targeted for construction
projects by UNCP's Regional Center, Robeson Community College and the
Public Schools of Robeson County. Officials praised the idea for its
potential to bring jobs to a region hit hard by the decline of textiles
and tobacco industries.
- "The optimism
I see and UNC Pembroke will result in something positive," said
Paul Wood, industrial developer for the Biotechnology Center.
- "I think
this project is right on the mark by targeting a growing, knowledge-based
industry," said Jim Nichols, an industrial developer for the
North Carolina Department of Commerce.
- "We cannot
sit here at home and expect industry to come to us," said state
Sen. David Weinstein. "Southeast North Carolina must make serious
initiatives in technology to transform our regional economy."
is a ray of sunshine for Southeastern North Carolina," said Dr.
Scott Ralls, vice president for Economic and Workforce Development
for North Carolina's community colleges. "The UNCP fermentations
facility promises opportunities for biotechnology development at both
the two-year and four-year North Carolina colleges and universities."
which was attended by 150, was held in UNCP's University Center and
hosted by Dr. Jose D'Arruda, chair of the Chemistry and Physics Department.
to University Newswire