Local News

N.C. Biotech Leaders Take Aggressive Approach To Recruit Business

Posted December 10, 2003

— State lawmakers agreed Wednesday morning to provide up to $36 million in cash and tax breaks to drug manufacturer Merck to bring a $300 million vaccine plant to Durham County.

Merck is not the only high-profile company North Carolina is trying to land and it is not just lawmakers making the pitch. Many in the local biotech field hope business practices up north will lead companies south.

Do you support offering tax breaks to companies that bring their business to North Carolina? Yes No Yes, But With A Cap Depends On The Company Depends On How Many Jobs Are Created

North Carolina has the Research Triangle Park and Boston has its own high-tech corridor.

Some biotechnology companies in the Bay State are not happy.

Tuesday, Boston mayor Thomas M. Menino announced a plan to buy prescription drugs from Canada for its employees. The plan would save the city more than $1 million a year.

"I think North Carolina can do it better and we ought to point that out," said Rep. Richard Morgan, co-Speaker of the House.

Morgan contacted CEOs in Boston and told them to move to a state that supports its industry.

"We are aggressively providing resources to the tune of

$64.5 million

," Morgan said.

The North Carolina Biosciences Organization is also letting it be known that millions of dollars are invested to train a biotech workforce in the Tar Heel state.

The organization placed a full-page ad in

The Boston Globe

last week, denouncing Boston's biotech business climate.

In an open letter to biotech companies, the organization suggests companies do not need to feel bullied by Massachusetts politicians.

While it is common for cities and states to try and recruit businesses from other states, the ad is unusual because it openly criticized Massachusetts politicians.

The ad is getting attention. In a story published in

The Boston Globe

on Dec. 4, Mass. state Sen. Mark Montigny stated, "I don't think a cheesy ad in a newspaper would result in much." Boston's mayor stated, "North Carolinians have been in the sun too long."

The head of the North Carolina Biosciences Organization believes those comments make Boston leaders look desperate.

Morgan said the state has the potential to have more than $2 billion in new construction here if the companies are pursued aggressively.


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