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Bond kickoff

If the Connect NC bond package is passed by voters in March, ECU’s proposed 150,000-square-foot building would be the new home of the biology department and the biomedical/bioprocess engineering department.



HUGE OPPORTUNITIES
Connect NC bond campaign kicks off

Jan. 6, 2016

By Doug Boyd
ECU News Services


East Carolina University leaders traveled to Raleigh Tuesday to join Gov. Pat McCrory and others at a rally to build support for a $2 billion bond package.

The referendum will be on the March 15 primary ballot. If it passes, ECU would receive $90 million to build a new life sciences and biotechnology building.

“The bond referendum and ECU’s proposed bioscience-biotechnology building are huge opportunities for our students and faculty,” ECU Provost Ron Mitchelson, who attended the event in Raleigh, said recently. “I’m excited that we will be addressing real-world issues with our industry partners using collaborative spaces and technologies that this new facility would provide.”

ECU trustees unanimously passed a resolution in November supporting the bond referendum. ECU was the first institution in the 17-member University of North Carolina system to formally support the $2 billion bond. March’s bond vote will be the first such statewide referendum in more than 15 years.

More than $1.3 billion of the bond, issued only if voters approve it, would pay for buildings and renovations at all 17 UNC system schools and all 58 community colleges. Local governments would receive funding to help pay for water and sewer projects. The bond would also provide construction money for parks, the North Carolina Zoo, the Department of Agriculture and the National Guard.

ECU’s proposed 150,000-square-foot building would be the new home of the biology department and the biomedical/bioprocess engineering department. It also would house the new Center of Excellence for Pharmaceutical Development Manufacturing, a joint effort of ECU, Pitt Community College and local pharmaceutical companies to build a pipeline for pharmaceutical workers.

"Once realized, this new building will be home to collaborative, team-based research and learning that could be game-changing for us with major applications in biochemistry and pharmaceuticals, bioprocess engineering and manufacturing, and the biomedical fields,” said William Downs, dean of the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences at ECU. “The resulting interactions should contribute directly to regional economic development, and they would position East Carolina graduates to secure the high-paying, high-impact jobs that the United States must fill if it is to retain its preeminence in science and technology."

Officials say the building would also increase research development funding in eastern North Carolina, help recruit and retain researchers and students, and increase production of science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics graduates. The eastern region is home to 7,752 life sciences jobs, according to the N.C. Biotechnology Center.

State officials say the proposed bonds wouldn't require new taxes to pay for them.

Since the 2000 referendum, which approved $3.1 billion in higher education bonds, the state’s population has grown by 2 million. The General Assembly agreed last fall to put bonds on the ballot, and McCrory signed the legislation.

The 2000 bond funded the Science and Technology Building at ECU as well as the Health Sciences Building, which houses the ECU College of Nursing, College of Allied Health Sciences and Laupus Library.

More information about the Connect NC Bond Act is online at http://connect.nc.gov.