Governor Deval Patrick today announced nearly $1 million in grants to support life sciences related capital projects for Quinsigamond Community College (QCC) and Mount Wachusett Community College (MWCC) to better respond to the region's growing need for skilled workers in biotechnology, biomedical engineering and pharmaceuticals. The Governor made the announcement at QCC's Harrington Learning Center.
"In order for Massachusetts to continue to create jobs and prosper, we must train our workers for the jobs of the 21st century global economy," said Governor Patrick. "Our innovation economy relies on a well-educated, well-skilled workforce, and these grants will expand opportunity and grow jobs in central Massachusetts."
Earlier on Thursday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that Massachusetts added over 55,000 jobs in 2013, the largest number of jobs created in a single year in nearly 15 years.
Under Governor Patrick's leadership, Massachusetts has emerged as the global leader in life sciences. Through the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC), Massachusetts is investing $1 billion over 10 years in the growth of the state's life sciences ecosystem. To date, the MLSC has awarded more than $330 million to support life sciences-related capital projects across the state, creating thousands of jobs and more than 1.3 million square feet of new education, research and manufacturing space.
The $499,880 grant awarded to QCC will help to fit, furnish and equip specialized space for life sciences programs in its new 30,000 square foot Quinsigamond Engineering, Science and Technology Building located on the main campus in Worcester, slated to open in 2016. The new building and state-of-the-art equipment will be used to address the area's growing need for skilled workers in biotechnology, biomedical engineering, pharmaceuticals and related fields. Its three floors will house classrooms, offices and specialized laboratories vital to graduating workers with the requisite skills needed for the regional life sciences economy. The $20 million facility is a long overdue improvement to existing labs that were constructed in the 1960s, and will enable QCC to enhance current program offerings and develop new programs with the goal of doubling the number of students enrolled in these courses and programs over the next three years.
"We are thrilled to be able to continue the work we have undertaken to fortify our STEM Programming," said QCC President Gail E. Carberry. "Our new QuEST Center (Quinsigamond Engineering, Sciences and Technology) will be the immediate beneficiary of the funding but our students will reap the ultimate rewards when they graduate and take their places in the Massachusetts economy as some of the newest and brightest leaders in the STEM fields. We are grateful to Governor Patrick and the Massachusetts legislature for recognizing the importance of the life sciences and for allowing Quinsigamond Community College the opportunity to continue leading the way in educational programming."
MWCC was awarded a $500,000 grant to upgrade aging and outdated equipment and add new equipment that aligns with current industry standards for its core life sciences courses in biology, organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology and plant science. These courses provide the basic foundation for MWCC'S existing biotechnology, natural resources and clinical laboratory science degree programs and three new proposed degree programs in quality and analytical technology, liberal arts and sciences biology and chemistry to be rolled out in fall 2014. The funding will make it possible for MWCC to substantially improve its curriculum to integrate more hands-on, real-world laboratory experiences and add an organic chemistry course, an equipment heavy foundational course for biological sciences and molecular biology studies. The grant will enable MWCC to fully upgrade its laboratory science equipment and to ensure employers have the skilled workforce they require for creating and retaining jobs in the life sciences.
"As Mount Wachusett Community College prepares to break ground this fall on a new science and technology building, the continued support of the Commonwealth, through this generous grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, could not be more timely and appreciated," said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. "This funding will enable us to provide cutting-edge equipment for our new laboratories, as well as much-needed upgrades to existing laboratories to enhance the academic experience for our students and ensure that employers have the skilled workforce they need for creating and retaining jobs in the STEM fields."
In addition to the grants announced today, six central Massachusetts area high schools received equipment and supply grants from the MLSC this past December:
Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational Technical School District - $90,000.00
Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science, Worcester - $95,429.25
Quaboag Regional School District - $99,567.73
Shrewsbury Public Schools - Shrewsbury High School - $75,587.52
Worcester Public Schools - Doherty High School - $99,526.29
Worcester Public Schools - Worcester Technical High School - $83,675.00
"The life sciences sectors are now the fastest job producers in Massachusetts, so a key strategy of the Life Sciences Center is to use our capital dollars to ensure that students all across the Commonwealth are prepared to compete successfully for these jobs," said Dr. Susan Windham-Bannister, Ph.D., President & CEO of the MLSC. "The projects at Quinsigamond Community College and Mount Wachusett Community College are great examples of our investments to achieve that objective. Community colleges, and the six high schools we are recognizing today play major roles in training the next generation of our state's life sciences workforce, and they ensure that training for innovation economy jobs is inclusive and available all across the state. Our grants help ensure that these schools can provide students with first-rate training facilities."
"One reason our innovation economy is strong and growing is because of our state's strong higher education institutions," said Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Greg Bialecki. "This funding will help ensure that these facilities are equipped with the tools and support they need to provide world-class education and training opportunities."
"Mount Wachusett Community College is uniquely poised to innovate in the life sciences sector because it is a top public educational institution," said Senator Stephen M. Brewer. "I am honored to support this grant, and to represent the Mount Wachusett community in the Senate."
"The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center and the Patrick Administration have made critical investments in sciences-related capital projects that contributed to the growth of the life sciences sector in the Commonwealth over the years," said Senator Harriette L. Chandler. "Congratulations to Quinsigamond Community College and Mount Wachusett Community College on receiving these grants, and I look forward to seeing positive impacts to the life sciences ecosystem."
"This funding comes at a perfect time for Mount Wachusett Community College, as they begin making major renovations to their science facilities in the coming months," said Senator Jennifer L. Flanagan. "Many thanks to the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center; the Mount, as they always do, will do great things with this support."
"I look forward to the continued partnership of MLSC and our Community Colleges to propel the Commonwealth as a leader in the field of Life Sciences," said Representative James J. O'Day. "Our greatest resource is the intellect of our students. This ongoing partnership will prepare them for a healthy technical and sophisticated workforce."
"Mount Wachusett Community College is an important part of our community and it is wonderful to see them have the opportunity to continue to grow," said Representative Jonathan D. Zlotnik. "Many thanks to the Massachusetts Life Science Center for their support of the new upgrades for MWCC that will benefit students and educators for many years to come."