RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A biomanufacturing training center that will provide hands-on experience for students and job seekers opened Wednesday at North Carolina State University.
Gov. Mike Easley and state higher education leaders dedicated the Golden LEAF Biomanufacturing Training and Education Center in a ceremony on N.C. State's Centennial Campus.
Combined with partnerships with North Carolina Central University and the state community college system, the center and its programs are expected to train up to 2,000 people annually in pharmaceutical, agricultural and other biotechnology industries.
The center will simulate a biomanufacturing plant that can produce biopharmaceutical products and package them in a sterile environment allowing students to use similar equipment and laboratories they would see on the job. The N.C. Biotechnology Center and Department of Commerce also are involved in the effort.
''This type of education and training exists nowhere else in the country at this scale and should serve as a magnet for new business expansions and relocations in this critical sector for our state's economy,'' N.C. State University Chancellor James Oblinger said in a news release.
Golden LEAF, a nonprofit foundation that oversees a portion of North Carolina's tobacco-settlement money, provided about $38 million to build the center. The foundation is spending $68 million in all for a project to expand biomanufacturing training statewide. Biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies also contributed $13 million in equipment and other in-kind donations.
North Carolina ranks third among the states with 400 biotechnology companies employing about 48,000 workers, the N.C. Biotechnology Center said. But well-trained workers are needed to retain its high standing, officials said.