North Carolina mayors brainstorm biotech incentives

Meeting just after Philip Morris shuttered a local plant and laid off 1,000 workers, a group of North Carolina mayors and public representatives gathered at Piedmont Triad Research Park to brainstorm a new set of incentives aimed at prodding the development of the state's biotech industry.

"It's more important than ever to be competitive in biotechnology and life sciences," said Concord Mayor Scott Padgett. "It's more important to be aggressive with innovations. But it's equally important to provide these companies with what they need--an educated work force and infrastructure--so that our communities can retain what we help grow and nurture."

North Carolina has long had a thriving biopharma industry. But an attempt by David Murdock to build a $1.5 billion biotech complex in Kannapolis has flagged in recent months, with a major tenant announcing that it plans to pull out. And in recent years North Carolina has been overshadowed by a group of states like California, Massachusetts and Florida, which have hatched major new economic development programs aimed at fostering biotech.

The North Carolina mayors are proposing a new biotech incentive plan that would provide additional tax credits and other state funding, asking the state pension plan to invest in the state's biotech businesses, more educational financing and more. The mayors also want to benchmark the state's biotech efforts against other states that have significant drug development and manufacturing operations.

- read the story in the Winston-Salem Journal