Wilson Center to Spur Life Sciences Education and Training in Eastern NC
Life sciences manufacturing is getting a $30 million boost in Eastern North Carolina, thanks to a state budget appropriation to develop a biologics training center in Wilson.
The center will provide customized training and education for life sciences manufacturing across the region. Wilson is home to a large manufacturing presence, including global companies Merck, Fresenius Kabi and ABEC.
The center will be housed at Wilson Community College. WCC and Wilson County officials joined State Sen. Buck Newton and State Rep. Ken Fontenot, Wilson-area legislators who helped secure funding, at an event Oct. 23 to announce the center.
“Having a biologics training center in Eastern North Carolina opens the door to biologics companies worldwide,” Jennifer Lantz, executive director of the Wilson Economic Development Council, told The Wilson Times. “Having ‘state-of-the’ art training in close proximity is essential to gain companies from that industry sector.”
The center is expected to include about 35,000 square feet of total space, according to a conceptual draft from the Wilson EDC. Plans call for simulated cleanroom environments, flexible classroom space and administrative offices to make up the bulk of the center. With a focus on biologics, or therapies derived from living sources, the center is expected to help train skilled workers in complex and precise manufacturing processes.
The Wilson Times reported that while the location hasn’t been announced, it’s expected to be less than a 10-minute drive from WCC’s main campus on Herring Avenue. WCC’s existing biotechnology program offers instruction in biology, chemistry and related fields that help prepare students for employment in life sciences. Graduates go on to jobs such as biology and chemistry research assistant, laboratory technician and quality assurance technician.
Other recent developments in the region’s life sciences sectors include:
- An $11 million investment in a Wilson biotech supply products manufacturing facility by Pennsylvania-based ABEC, announced last year
- A $100 million expansion of Fresenius Kabi’s pharmaceutical manufacturing center in Wilson, completed last year
- And an additional $57 million investment by global pharmaceutical giant Merck at its Wilson plant, announced in 2019
“Life sciences manufacturing has found a home in Eastern North Carolina,” said Mark Philllips, vice president of statewide operations and executive director of the Eastern Regional Office for the North Carolina Biotechnology Center. “This biologics training center will play a big role in making sure the life sciences companies operating in the region will have a strong and steady supply of skilled workers.”