PCC to get more than $1 million in federal grants to bolster science program

PCC to get more than $1 million in federal grants to bolster science program

WINTERVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – Pitt Community College is set to receive more than $1 million in federal grant funding to enhance its biotechnology program.

The college says the funding is part of the Accelerate NC – Life Sciences Manufacturing coalition’s effort to strengthen North Carolina’s life sciences sector.

PCC says that earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration announced the winners of its $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge. The coalition, led by the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, was given $25 million as one of 21 groups selected to receive funding.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said the funding would add to the “exceptional growth of North Carolina’s biotechnology industry by recruiting and training the next generation of biotech and life sciences professionals, especially those from underserved and minority institutions.

WITN is told that the grant funding will be used to develop a stronger pipeline of biotech talent across the state and to extend opportunities to underserved and historically excluded communities. Training programs will be extended at PCC and 9 other state community colleges and the funding will also establish university-based life sciences training hubs at 7 of the state’s minority-serving institutions.

PCC Biotechnology Department Chair Christy Weeks said PCC matched 20% toward its grant funding, bringing the total grant budget to more than $1.26 million over a three-year period.

PCC's Biotechnology program has produced a number of skilled workers, including Annabel Bivans. By the time she was 19 years old, Bivans was wrapping up an associate degree at Pitt to begin a full-time job with Greenville's Mayne Pharma pharmaceutical manufacturing facility.

PCC’s Biotechnology program has produced a number of skilled workers, including Annabel Bivans. By the time she was 19 years old, Bivans was wrapping up an associate degree at Pitt to begin a full-time job with Greenville’s Mayne Pharma pharmaceutical manufacturing facility.

Weeks says in addition to training, equipment, supplies, and travel, the budget includes funding for a new biotechnology faculty member, project liaison, and “pathways equity navigator,” who will establish a biotech career pathway for underserved student populations.

Weeks says there has never been a better time in eastern North Carolina for securing “high-paying, rewarding” employment in the pharmaceutical industry.

Gov. Roy Cooper has said that investing in biotechnology would boost the state’s economy and strengthen its workforce “for years to come.”

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