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Developers: NC Faces Growing Global Competition in Life Sciences

Tech Wire
April 3, 2015

North Carolina’s life science leaders can no longer consider South Carolina or Virginia or Georgia their competitors.

That's one warning from Matthew Szuhaj, director of operations and strategy for Deloitte Consulting and the site selection company’s life sciences industry service leader.

The real competition, said Szuhaj, is from places like Ireland, Switzerland and other far-flung global hubs of health care, ag and pharma commerce. Far-flung, as in Brazil, India and China, too.

Szuhaj was among a group of industry leaders who huddled with more than 100 North Carolina economic development gurus recently at the Marriott City Center in downtown Raleigh for a Life Science Economic Development Summit organized by the North Carolina Biotechnology Center.

What trends are working in life science site selection? What are the best practices for economic development organizations?

  • Szuhaj - All people in one place - same logo on business card, so the economic development organization appears seamless to the client. The best economic development organizations are nimble. They’re ahead of the curve in customer service.
  • Shapiro - Put all information in one place, don’t make them hunt. Katie Culp calls this brain damage. Know your community better than anybody. Maintain your credibility with local businesses. Target your info to site selectors.

What creative ideas are helping to land economic development projects?

  • Culp -Incentives aren’t rocket science, but there’s an art. Incentives programs are similar across states. The deal maker is the user-friendliness of the programs. They must be well-funded, accessible, easy-to-use programs.
  • Shapiro -On talent, pay attention to pipeline. Everyone in this industry knows that you’ve got to get kids interested in STEM by middle school. Workforce development programs that reach students early in middle school in the STEM courses.
  • Szuhaj – The life science world is proprietary. Employees must be licensed in the process. Learning and processing is different. We do this really well here. Training has to recognize proprietary nature; it can’t be a blanket grant to get equipment for a university. It's good to have one place that says we’ll train people. If you don’t like them, you don’t have to hire them. Georgia built a pilot facility for Baxter, and they will operate it for 20 years.
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