May 30, 2006

NYC to spur bioscience jobs, states to compete

By Joan Gralla

NEW YORK -- New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on Tuesday the city will finalize a lease for an East River Science Park in the next few months, joining other cities and states in the race to attract high-paying bioscience jobs.

The Republican mayor said the city's 11 renowned teaching hospitals, 90 life science companies and 128 Nobel Prize winners will help it become a leading center in this rapidly growing field, which is viewed as the dot-com industry's successor.

"It's the next wave in sustainable economic development," said Arturo Perez, a fiscal analyst with the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures.

Biosciences will help diversify the city's economy, which now relies so heavily on Wall Street, the mayor said.

He announced that one bioscience firm, Clinilabs, Inc., a privately held medical research company that conducts clinical trials used to develop new drugs, has invested about $2.7 million in a new building in midtown. More than 100 employees will work in the new building.

New York City owns the land for the new science park, where Alexandria Real Estate Equities Inc. plans a $700 million, 870,000-square-foot building expected to help create 2,000 permanent jobs.

The privately financed building will be located just north of the city's historic Bellevue Hospital Center, from 28th to 29th streets, according to Andrew Brent, a spokesman for the city's Economic Development Corp.

New York State is expected to provide at least $24 million to improve infrastructure, while the city has committed $10 million for this purpose, Brent added.

New York City will be competing with other cities and states that also see biosciences as the next hot ticket.

For example, Aurora, Colorado, just south of Denver, is turning the Fitzsimons Army Medical Center into a hospital and research complex, Perez noted. Congress put the base on its shutdown list in 1995, and the first of six new bioscience buildings opened in 2000, part of a two-decade plan, according to the Web site:

The economy of North Carolina, famed for its research triangle, got another kick-start in February when ground was broken on a new 311,000-square-foot building for offices and labs located in Kannapolis, just north of Charlotte.

The project is funded by a $150 million donation from David Murdock, who owns Castle & Cooke, Inc. and Dole Food Co., Inc.