From left: Sylvia Pate, Chancellor Meadors, Morris Bullock and Len Holmes
A biotechnology fermentation project at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke received a key vote of support from the Robeson County Committee of 100.
"This is a different kind of "spec" building for us," said Committee of 100 Chair Morris Bullock who delivered a check for $15,000 to the university on Wednesday. "This project holds promise to do good things for the region's economy and to train our young people."
The project will construct a facility to manufacture valuable molecular products from living cells. It will also produce valuable research, training and attract the growing biotechnology industry to the region.
The Committee of 100 is dedicated to stimulating the local economy primarily by constructing shell buildings to attract industry. The $15,000 will go for a marketing and development study for the project, which will be located at the Carolina Commerce and Technology Center (COMtech.), a developing site for technology-focused business, industry, education, training and business incubation facilities.
"There is momentum building at COMtech. and at the university," Mr. Bullock said. "We are very, very impressed with the expertise the university possesses in science and its ability to market it."
"This is a rare opportunity to put a feather in our cap for the development of this county," he said.
Chancellor Allen C. Meadors thanked the university's new partners. "We want to be an engine of growth in this region, and our biotechnology project speaks to that goal," Chancellor Meadors said. "However good we are, we will always need partners to be successful. We're very pleased to receive this kind of endorsement and assistance from the Committee of 100."
The project would construct a $1 million facility on 12 acres that the university owns at COMtech, said Dr. Len Holmes, chemistry professor and project director.
"This $15,000 investment can be parlayed into a tremendous return," Dr. Holmes said. "The biotechnology industry hold great promise for the future, and North Carolina is already a world leader in research, development and manufacturing thanks to forward-thinking leadership."
"We can be leaders in attracting biotechnology manufacturers, but only if we act now and act together," he said.
The university's Office of Sponsored Research and Programs and the Regional Center for Economic, Community and Professional Development are working on about $4 million in grants from public and private sources for this project, said Regional Center Director Sylvia Pate.
"The biotechnology industry is going to happen in Southeastern North Carolina," Ms. Pate said. "The question is who will get there first. And, why not Robeson County?"