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Press Release

U.S. Department of Commerce Invests Approximately $25 Million to Strengthen North Carolina’s Life Sciences Sector Through American Rescue Plan Regional Challenge

WASHINGTON – Today, President Biden will announce the Accelerate NC - Life Sciences Manufacturing coalition as one of 21 winners of the $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge, the most impactful regional economic development competition in decades. Funded by President Biden’s American Rescue Plan and administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), the Regional Challenge is awarding approximately $25 million in grants to the Accelerate NC - Life Sciences Manufacturing coalition, led by North Carolina Biotechnology Center, to strengthen the state’s life sciences sector.

With this funding, Accelerate NC - Life Sciences Manufacturing will 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. The coalition will expand entry-level biotechnology training programs at ten North Carolina community colleges and establish university-based, life sciences training hubs at seven Minority Serving Institutions across the state. The coalition and its private sector partners will also create ambassador and mentorship programs to break down barriers to careers in the biotech industry, prioritizing equity alongside economic growth.

“The North Carolina biotechnology industry has achieved exceptional growth and the Build Back Better Regional Challenge funding builds on this success by recruiting and training the next generation of biotech and life sciences professionals, especially from underserved and minority institutions,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “The Accelerate NC - Life Sciences Manufacturing coalition will increase the capacity of North Carolina’s education system to meet workforce demand and prepare residents for good-paying jobs in the biotech and life sciences sectors.”

“The Economic Development Administration is proud to support the vision of the North Carolina Biotechnology Center and its regional partners,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo. “This EDA investment will help ensure equitable access for residents of North Carolina to careers in a vital industry.”

“This investment will boost our economy and strengthen our workforce for years to come,” said North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper. “As North Carolina's life science sector continues to thrive and expand, we’re glad to keep working with the Biden-Harris Administration to invest in the industries that make our state great.”

“I applaud the Economic Development Administration’s selection of the NC BioBetter coalition, led by the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, as a winner of the American Rescue Plan Build Back Better Regional Challenge,” said Congressman G. K. Butterfield (NC-01). “With these funds the NC BioBetter coalition will strengthen North Carolina’s existing life science manufacturing capabilities, develop and invest in the local workforce, and help accelerate economic equity and resilience in our state. I am particularly excited about planned partnerships with high schools and community colleges, including Pitt Community College and Wilson Community College in my district, to help students gain skills and experience that will prepare them for manufacturing jobs upon graduation. This award, made possible by the Biden Administration and Congressional democrats, fulfills a promise to the American people to build back stronger and better from the pandemic.”

“North Carolina’s Research Triangle is a major hub for research and manufacturing in innovative fields like biotechnology,” said Congresswoman Deborah Ross (NC-02). “This grant will provide critical assistance to our students and researchers, create new good-paying jobs, and invest in the future of science and technology in North Carolina. Importantly, this grant will help ensure that this region’s economic growth is inclusive and creates economic equity for historically excluded populations. I’m thrilled to see these funds coming to our state so we can continue to lead in cutting-edge research and innovation.”

“Investments in workforce development training programs carry outsized benefits across the region and state – they spur job growth, empower our students and workers with increased opportunities, and benefit local industries eager to connect with a growing network of highly-trained people,” said Congressman David Price (NC-04). “I’m thrilled at the EDA’s $25 million investment, funded by the pivotal American Rescue Plan, which will play a critical role in the NC BioBetter coalition’s mission to provide quality and equitable educational opportunities in the rapidly growing biotechnology sector.”

“I’m thrilled to see NC BioBetter Coalition win $25 million in funding through the American Rescue Plan Build Back Better Regional Challenge,” said Congresswoman Kathy Manning (NC-06). “By instituting life science-based workforce training programs at community colleges across North Carolina and training hubs on Minority Serving Institutions’ campuses, NC BioBetter will utilize American Rescue Plan funding to expand opportunities to communities that have historically been left out of the scientific industry. This strategic investment in North Carolina’s workforce and educational structure will support our local economies and help to ensure that North Carolinians can land good-paying jobs in the biotech and life science industries.”

“Yet again, the America Rescue Plan Act is delivering for North Carolina,” said Congresswoman Alma Adams (NC-12). “This grant will help the NC BioBetter Coalition and the North Carolina Biotechnology Center advance important health research, build a talent pipeline that includes diverse communities, and create good jobs for our families.”

The Accelerate NC - Life Sciences Manufacturing coalition is one of 21 winners – each a regional coalition of partnering entities – that will receive awards between $25 million and $65 million to implement an average of six integrative projects that will enable each region's economic transformation and competitiveness.

The Build Back Better Regional Challenge (BBBRC) is an unprecedented competitive federal grant program that provides each regional coalition with significant investments to tackle a wide variety of projects – including entrepreneurial support, workforce development, infrastructure, and innovation – to drive inclusive economic growth. Each coalition’s collection of projects aims to develop and strengthen regional industry clusters – all while embracing economic equity, creating good-paying jobs, and enhancing U.S. competitiveness globally. Projects span 24 states and include $87 million to two primarily Tribal coalitions and over $150 million for projects serving communities impacted by the declining use of coal.

The 21 BBBRC awardees were chosen from 60 EDA-designated finalists that each received approximately $500,000 in funding and technical assistance to continue developing their cluster strategies. The funding for each coalition is approximate, with awards to be signed later in September. Those 60 finalists were chosen from a Phase 1 applicant pool of 529 applications, which exemplifies the tremendous demand for transformational economic development approaches. EDA will continue to support all 60 finalists with the creation of a Community of Practice that will provide technical support, foster connectedness with peer regions and build capacity.

The Build Back Better Regional Challenge is one of EDA’s many programs aimed at building strong regional economies and supporting community-led economic development. EDA was allocated $3 billion in supplemental funding under the American Rescue Plan to assist communities nationwide in their efforts to build back better by accelerating economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and building local economies that will be resilient to future economic shocks. As a part of this funding, EDA allocated $300 million through a Coal Communities Commitment to support coal communities in pandemic recovery and help them create new jobs and opportunities, including through the creation or expansion of a new industry sector. Specifically, EDA has dedicated $100 million of its Build Back Better Regional Challenge funds and $200 million of its Economic Adjustment Assistance funds to directly support coal communities. Grantees for EDA’s full suite of American Rescue Plan programs will be awarded on a rolling basis through September 30, 2022. For more information, visit https://www.eda.gov/ARPA/.

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (www.eda.gov)
The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation's regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA invests in communities and supports regional collaboration in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.

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