Capturing the Jobs
Cooperative Effort Vital to Ride Biotech Wave
Key business leaders and educators during a caucus Wednesday in Fairfield were treated to an upbeat, confident and auspicious outlook for the growth of jobs and the biotechnology industry in Solano County and Northern California.
An industry spokesman, a vice chancellor at the University of California, Davis, and the president of Solano Community College were hosted by Solano Economic Development Corp. And each painted a rosy picture of the potential that the region can tap.
But there are some hurdles that need to be cleared. It will take local leaders and local educators creating programs that keep the biotech industry healthy and blooming here.
Matt Gardner, who heads Bay Bio, an industry organization that represents nearly 275 biotech-related entities, pointed to the growth of Genentech's Vacaville facility into the world's largest biotech manufacturing plant. He said there are more jobs like the good ones coming in a $600 million expansion that will eventually add 790 jobs to the 1,150 that exist at 1000 New Horizons Way in the north city industrial park.
What is at stake?
Mr. Gardner forecasts 8,000 new jobs on the horizon over the next 12 months. For Vacaville and Solano County to capture them, there needs to be teamwork among local cities, the community college, local universities, state regulators and politicians.
It is clear we have several objectives to achieve:
• Local government must streamline approval processes to allow companies to get up and running as quickly as possible in a dynamic industry sector in which time is critical.
• State officials need to eliminate the perception that there are more "disincentives" than inducements to do business in California.
• Solano EDC must focus on promoting the available land, work force and quality of life that local communities have to offer.
• Solano Community College must forge ahead with its "Vision 2020" blueprint that calls for a biotech learning center on its new Vacaville campus, for more faculty in biology and life sciences, for new partnerships with four-year universities to train the highly skilled workers the industry seeks.
• The University of California, Davis, which graduates more students in bioscience than any other U.S. institution, must pursue even more partnerships with private industry to add not only skilled workers, but also to transfer technology to help life sciences come up with more cures for disease.
• And, there needs to be a transportation system solution to the growing congestion on our highways. New industries need a highway system that doesn't become jammed at Interstate 80 and I-680.
Northern California's biotech sector is twice the size of its nearest competitor, Boston. It can continue to grow if there is a cohesive, integrated approach shared by city leaders, educators, state lawmakers and economic development agencies.
It already has happened in Vacaville with Genentech. It can prosper and propagate to everyone's advantage.
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