The East Carolina University Board of Trustees unanimously passed a resolution Friday in support of an upcoming bond referendum called “Connect NC.” ECU is the first institution in the 17-member University of North Carolina system to formally support the $2 billion bond.
The UNC system stands to benefit from 49 percent of the funding in the bond package, including projects such as a College of Nursing at Appalachian State University, a School of Business at N.C. Central University and a Life Sciences & Biotechnology Building at ECU.
“The bond referendum and ECU’s proposed bioscience-biotechnology building are huge opportunities for our students and faculty,” said ECU Provost Dr. Ron Mitchelson. “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.”
If passed, ECU’s 150,000-square-foot Life Sciences & Biotechnology Building would be funded by $90 million of the bond package. The building would 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 (STEAM) graduates. The eastern region is home to 7,752 life science jobs, according to the N.C. Biotechnology Center.
Voters will decide on March 15 whether or not to pass the referendum, which also includes projects for 76 counties and will not increase or add new taxes. The last general obligation bond passed by the state was in 2000.
“Our proposed location of the biological sciences and engineering in this new facility will lead to smart solutions in medicine, advanced manufacturing, and agriculture,” said Mitchelson. “It’s a rare opportunity for economic development and regional transformation.”