Massachusetts Looks Forward as World Leader in Life Science Research

Life Sciences Bill Includes UMD in Its Plans
By The Associated Press

BOSTON — The life sciences bill that Gov. Deval Patrick could sign soon includes UMass Dartmouth as a possible site for a scientific research center.
The bill, designed to make Massachusetts a world leader in life sciences, won the backing of a key committee on Tuesday and could land on Patrick’s desk by the end of the week.
“People who have been involved in fashioning the legislation, such as (Rep.) Michael Rodrigues of Westport, have done really a lot making sure the benefits of the legislation will reach out to every corner of Massachusetts,” said UMass Dartmouth spokesman John Hoey. “People also recognize the value that every campus of the University of Massachusetts could bring to the development of that industry. UMass Dartmouth has a significant role to play in this.”
The $1 billion 10-year initiative is a cornerstone of Patrick’s economic strategy. He hopes the bill will lure biotechnology companies to the state, creating high-paying quality jobs while holding on to scientists and researchers at state institutions.
“I think this bill is going to be a very positive development for the future of the Massachusetts economy and create tremendous opportunities over the long term,” Mr. Hoey said.
The bill includes $250 million in tax credits for life sciences companies that agree to create jobs in the commonwealth. Another $250 million is set aside for research grants to encourage those conducting the cutting edge research to stay in Massachusetts.
The remaining $500 million would be dedicated for major construction and improvement projects designed to benefit the industry.
Besides Dartmouth, the bill identifies several other possible locations for new scientific research centers, including Pittsfield, Lowell, Springfield, Framingham, Boston, Taunton and Woods Hole.
Rep. Daniel Bosley, a North Adams Democrat and co-chairman of the Economic Development Committee, said the bill will help draw the best talent to Massachusetts.
“Not only will we create new jobs, we may find cures for innumerable diseases, treatments for rare disorders or perhaps discover ways to prevent certain diseases all together,” he said in a statement.
A top Patrick aide praised what he called a “cooperative and collaborative process” with the Legislature.
“While we are just beginning our review of the final bill, at first blush it seems very consistent with the governor’s vision of making Massachusetts a world leader in the life sciences,” said Kyle Sullivan, the governor’s press secretary.
The bill has its critics, including business advocates who say that with all the focus on new technologies, lawmakers shouldn’t forget about the bread-and-butter industries that employ the bulk of Massachusetts workers.
The bill is expected to be approved by House lawmakers today and the Senate on Thursday.
The governor wants to sign the bill on Monday before flying to San Diego for a biotech conference hosted by a Washington-based industry trade group.
He hopes to use the bill to pitch the state to company representatives at the conference.
Standard-Times staff writer Joao Ferreira contributed to this report
June 11, 2008 6:00 AM
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