Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Garamendi Seeks Boost For Biotech Firms

Garamendi Seeks Boost For Biotech Firms
By Shelly Meron/Business Writer

Lt. Governor John Garamendi announced last week that he will recommend the creation of a state advisory panel on biotechnology to the Commission for Economic Development. Garamendi made the announcement after touring two biotech facilities last week - Poniard Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Cell Genesys Inc.

"Biotechnology represents an incredible growth opportunity for California's economy," Garamendi said in a press release last week. "The innovations of these companies, as well as others, will play an invaluable role in the creation of a sustainable growth economy that creates jobs and helps protect our natural resources."

Solano County is home to several biotech manufacturing facilities, including Genentech Inc., Novartis, and Alza Corp. Mike Ammann, president of the Solano Economic Development Corporation, said expanding the biotech industry in the county was a top priority that has been hindered by California's business climate.

"This commission has the ability to use these and other advisory committees to recommend legislative changes and support the growth of biotechnology and other key industries in California," he said.

According to BayBio, a nonprofit trade association serving the life science industry in Northern California, the region is home to more than 900 life science companies with 90,000 employees and 393 products on the market. Ammann estimates the industry to double in the region in the next 10 years.

"We've got a real machine going on here," he said of the biotech industry in the area. "Hopefully, we'll see some acknowledgment of the benefits of that, and maybe we'll see some changes that will make investing these huge sums in a (biotech) manufacturing plant more friendly. Until we change the business climate, we will have a very difficult time with (companies) investing in California."

Shelly Meron can be reached at business@thereporter.com.

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