$300K Grant Opens New Durham Tech Biotech Aseptic Training Program

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Federal and local grants totaling $300,000 are enabling a new pharmaceutical manufacturing workforce training program at Durham Technical Community College.

Elected representatives, business and industry leaders, and workforce developers joined U.S. Rep. David Price at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center for the announcement this morning.

Price, Chair of the Durham County Commissioners Brenda Howerton, and Durham Tech President J.B. Buxton announced that the two grants will be combined to fund the purchase of equipment for aseptic processing training, which is vital in preventing contamination while manufacturing sterile products. The funding included a $240,000 Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) and $60,000 in matching funding from the Durham County Board of Commissioners.

“This training reflects our commitment to expand our biotechnology programming and training opportunities to meet the demands of a surging industry in our region,” said Buxton. “Aseptic training is one part of our plan to create a pipeline to great jobs in a growing sector. We want to be the go-to institution for diverse talent for life sciences employers.”

Durham County currently has some 24,000 life sciences workers. There are approximately 50 pharmaceutical manufacturing companies in the Triangle region alone, and biomanufacturing companies statewide have been challenged to fill positions with trained talent.

"Durham Technical Community College is once again showcasing its ability to design and grow their educational offerings to match the needs of local industry partners,” said Price, “giving students the tools and skills necessary to succeed in their desired career while having a positive impact on the region’s economy.

"As we work to offset the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, I am pleased to have been able to assist with securing this critical EDA investment, which will triple the current training capacity on campus and strengthen our local life sciences workforce."

With the new aseptic training on the college’s main campus in Durham, Durham Tech can significantly increase its training and Durham Tech students will have better access to the education and training they need to enter the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry.

"This is a valuable addition to our exceptional pharmaceutical manufacturing workforce training system," said Laura Rowley, Ph.D., director of life science economic development at NCBiotech. "This adds another opportunity to those who are finding their way into this growing career field." NCBiotech has been actively reaching out to potential workers in biomanufacturing and other life sciences disciplines with the Bio Jobs Hub, a project developed in partnership with WRAL TechWire.

Doug Edgeton, NCBiotech president and CEO, noted that in 2020 North Carolina recruitment and expansion projects included 4,600 new life sciences jobs announced with $3 billion in investment. Of those, 2,800 jobs are in biopharma, with $2.3 billion in investment.

The trend continues this year, with 2,700 jobs announced through the end of June. About 2,000 of those are in biopharma manufacturing. This doesn’t count the announcement at the beginning of August that Amgen is bringing 350 jobs to Holly Springs.

The announcement of the EDA grant and plans for aseptic training follow announcements in recent months about Durham Tech’s partnership with KBI Biopharma to launch an apprenticeship program a and its role in the Building Up Local Life Sciences (BULLS) initiative to educate a diverse cohort of 18- to 24 year-olds for jobs in biomanufacturing, along with partners such as NCBiotech, Durham County, the Durham Chamber of Commerce, and Made in Durham.

“We look forward to seeing the results of this new opportunity and how well it will allow our community residents to continue to train for the jobs of the future,” said Howerton.  “We have much to celebrate as we continue to expand in this area.”

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