Los Angeles lags far behind big California cities like San Francisco and San Diego when it comes to attracting biotechnology and science industries to the region, but on Wednesday, L.A. County Sup. Hilda Solis was at Cal State L.A. singing the praises of the campus and the greater East Los Angeles area as viable investment opportunities for the full spectrum of bio-related industries.
Joining Solis at Cal State L.A. was U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams, who like Solis is a proponent of leveraging the bioscience industry to promote economic development.
According to Solis’ office, the two discussed the possibility of a future biotech corridor that would stretch from Cal State L.A. to the Los Angeles County+USC medical center in Boyle Heights, an area represented by the supervisor and former labor secretary.
The biotech corridor would bring thousands of jobs to East Los Angeles, as well as promote cutting-edge research, the supervisor’s office said in an email.
“As former U.S. Secretary of Labor, I am committed to job creation and the biotech corridor is part of that vision,” said Solis, whose Supervisorial First District stands to gain from new jobs that will come as a result of this project.
Williams and Solis were given a tour of Cal State’s laboratories by President William A. Covino who talked about the University’s successful efforts to prepare students to excel in Ph.D. programs in STEM-related disciplines. They met students who are conducting research under the direction of professors Howard Xu and Cecilia Zurita Lopez.
Breana Luna, who is pursuing a master’s degree in biology, talked about Cal State L.A.’s role in fueling her interest in science.
“I’m sure your family is proud of you. Congratulations,” Williams told Luna.
Solis pointed out that Cal State L.A. plays an important role in training future researchers who will help the bioscience industry thrive in the area.
The university is at the center of the regional effort to expand bioscience businesses in the LA region and is in the process of building a bioscience incubator on its campus being paid for in part with a $3 million grant from the county.
According to Cal State, the incubator will provide laboratory space to private startup ventures to fuel their growth.The university said faculty and students will collaborate with the companies to share expertise that will benefit the university and the private sector community.
Cal State L.A. has applied for a $3 million grant from the Economic Development Administration of the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, the agency headed by Williams. The federal grant would be used to construct a new building for the incubator on the 175-acre campus.
To date, local companies have pledged to hire 300 new workers once the incubator is built. The university anticipates construction will be completed by the end of 2016.
“Employment in the field of biotechnology is important. These specialize jobs represent our future economy,” said Solis. “We need to prepare our young students so that they can seamlessly take on these research jobs.
“But, this biotech corridor will also bring construction jobs to East Los Angeles, and it will provide entrepreneurial opportunities for small businesses in the area.”