The emerging biomedical field in the El Paso region gained a big
endorsement this week from the federal government, which is giving a
million-dollar grant to help fund a state-of-art research facility.
The Medical Center of the Americas Foundation received a $1 million grant from the U.S. Commerce Department's Economic Development Administration. The goal of the investment is to help expand the biomedical field in the El Paso region by helping to pay for the design and engineering of a new biomedical research and technology commercialization building.
"We are very excited about this grant and what it will do for the El Paso area," said Emma Schwartz, president of the Medical Center of the Americas Foundation. "It's a great endorsement from the federal government on the emerging biomedical research field in El Paso and will have a great impact continuing that growth."
The new 80,000-square-foot, four-story building will feature office suites, wet and dry laboratories, incubator space, and other flexible workspaces available for companies in the biomedical field. The building, which will be on Gateway Boulevard East between Raynolds and Chelsea streets, will be the first laboratory in the area that will lease space to private research companies, Schwartz said.
"There is nowhere else that offers laboratories to private companies anywhere in the area," Schwartz said. "This is an important step in helping El Paso to continue to grow in biomedical
research and economically, because it allows companies to come and stay in El Paso. That brings in money and talent that is needed to help further biomedical research."
While the development of the biomedical field is still in the early phases, officials of the center are encouraged that the grant is just the beginning of more support from the federal, state and local governments.
"This is a huge step for us and a game changer for El Paso," said Angelica Talavera, grants and development specialist for the Medical Center of the Americas Foundation. "With this, the hope is the EDA (Economic Development Administration), city and county will keep investing in biomedical research in El Paso, so it will continue to grow and allow the research already being done here to stay here, while bringing other research projects to El Paso."
As biomedical research has become a field many cities are trying develop, El Paso's role as a border city played a large role for the grant to the Medical Center of the Americas Foundation, Matt Erskine, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of commerce for economic development, said in a statement.
"This EDA investment is a great example of the Obama administration's commitment to supporting collaborative regional innovation, entrepreneurship, and economic growth," Erskine said. "The EDA grant announced (Monday) will help provide a new place for biotechnology and medical businesses in west Texas to grow and establish cross-border links throughout the entire Paso del Norte region."
The groundbreaking for the building is planned for January 2014, and the opening in August 2015, Schwartz said.
"We are very excited about what this facility will do for medical research and the city of El Paso," Schwartz said. "We hope this facility located right off I-10 will become an iconic building for all of El Paso."
Aaron Martinez may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 546-6249. Follow him on Twitter @Amartinez31
(c)2013 the El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas)
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