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VGCC Receives Funding to Support Bioprocess Technology Program


A statewide coalition of public and private partner organizations and institutions, led by the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, has received a Phase 2 award totaling nearly $25 million from the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s Build Back Better Regional Challenge.

The NCBiotech-led consortium is one of only 21 projects chosen from 60 applicants nationwide. The Phase 2 award will further strengthen North Carolina’s life sciences manufacturing cluster by expanding, connecting, and promoting training and career opportunities to underserved and distressed communities, including historically excluded populations. The NC BioBetter Project of the North Carolina Community College System is a sub-recipient of North Carolina’s Phase 2 award. Vance-Granville Community College (VGCC) is a participant in the NC BioBetter Project.

“This investment will boost our economy and strengthen our workforce for years to come,” said North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper. “As North Carolina’s life science sector continues to thrive and expand, we’re glad to keep working with the Biden-Harris Administration and the North Carolina Biotechnology Center to invest in the industries that make our state great.”

“Vance-Granville worked closely with our industry partners to ensure that our segment of the project was a good fit for our regional needs. The College is delighted to be part of a coalition designed to increase access to good paying jobs in the Life Sciences sector. The funding will support the VGCC Bioprocess Technology program and provide a new faculty member, student support personnel, equipment, and professional development in support of the effort. We look forward to working with government, industry, K-12, community college and university partners to bring this spectacular vision to life,” said Rachel Desmarais, the President of VGCC. The College’s service area is part of a regional workforce environment supporting biomanufacturing, biopharma, and life science industries. Details of VGCC-specific participation in this grant will be released the week of September 5, 2022.

Under the American Rescue Plan signed into law in March 2021, EDA was allocated $3 billion in supplemental economic development funding. The Build Back Better Regional Challenge is one of many programs developed by the EDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, aimed at building strong regional economies and supporting community-led economic development nationwide. The regional challenge program aims to accelerate economic recovery, especially from negative impacts of the pandemic, and at building local economies that will be resilient to future economic shocks. It is the largest economic development initiative from the Department of Commerce in decades.

Community colleges involved in the NC BioBetter project include Alamance Community College, Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute, Central Carolina Community College, Durham Tech Community College, Forsyth Technical Community College, Johnston Community College, Pitt Community College, Vance-Granville Community College, Wake Technical Community College, and Wilson Community College.

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