Lex’s Eds & Meds Economy

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Ace has been talking about Lexington’s potential as an Eds & Meds economy for awhile now (say… 20 years). The “idea” grew out of the fact that you can’t throw a rock without hitting a hospital or a college in this town.

If everybody can temporarily climb down off the horse debate, here’s an article worth reading.

Robert Weisman writes in today’s Boston Globe about Massachusetts “bio-ready” communities:

boston.com/lifestyle/green/articles/2009/04/30/bio_ready_communities_in_state_named/

“Cities and towns scrambling to attract biotech companies could get a boost today when the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council unveils its roster of BioReady Communities - those that have positioned themselves as destinations for labs or manufacturing plants.

Forty-four made the industry group’s first list, including 17 designated platinum, the highest rating… Platinum-rated municipalities have zoned areas for biotech, a permitting process in place, and available buildings or preapproved sites.

“We think through this BioReady campaign we can educate communities that could be ready if a company was looking to locate in Massachusetts and needed an answer in four days,” said Peter Abair, director of economic development for the council.

Council members last year talked with municipal officials across the state, asking them to submit data about how receptive they are to biotechnology businesses, Abair said.

The initiative began in 2007 after the state’s experience wooing drug maker Bristol-Myers Squibb, which had launched a bid to locate 100 acres for biotech manufacturing, weighing sites in several states. The company ultimately decided on the former Fort Devens Army base, but Abair said Massachusetts had to first overcome some hurdles.

“The perception was we have problems with zoning, permitting, getting projects through,” he said. That’s partly because Massachusetts has 351 municipalities acting independently on development, while other states have county systems for approving projects and state-owned land reserved for industrial use.

One goal of the BioReady effort is to expand the state’s biotechnology industry beyond Greater Boston communities such as Cambridge, which is home to about 110 companies and some of the largest. The state biotechnology council is also based in Cambridge.

Worcester, which has dozens of biotech companies affiliated with the city’s colleges and the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, also seeks to attract manufacturing and clinical trial operations. “We can do biotech manufacturing at a lower cost than some of the Greater Boston communities,” said Timothy J. McGourthy, Worcester’s director of economic development.



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