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Plan under way to attract bioscience industry

BURLINGTON - Gov. Jim Douglas attended the kick-off event for the Vermont Biosciences Alliance last week. The Vermont Biosciences Alliances is a partnership of businesses that make-up Vermont's growing bioscience industry as well as academic partners from the higher education community.

"It is great to see business leaders from the bioscience community coming together to support one another," Douglas said. "These cutting-edge employers will play a leading role in our economic recovery and provide great job opportunities for Vermonters."

The Vermont Biosciences Alliance launched its efforts at the Albany College of Pharmacy and Life Sciences, a member of the alliance, at its Colchester campus. The members discussed ways to encourage "angel funding" for biotechnology and life science business ventures; industry relationships to support and fund research; valuing and commercializing intellectual capital; and other ways to grow successful technology based businesses in Vermont.

"In recent years, Vermont has made progress in laying the foundation to support technology-based businesses," the governor said. "But we have a lot more work to do to encourage growth and job creation in the technology sector of our economy," he added.

Douglas has made economic development and job creation a top priority and he has asked the legislature to do the same. Late last year, the governor proposed several initiatives, including a research and development tax credit, to spur economic activity and help Vermont emerge from the global recession.

Douglas also proposed using $17.1 million in State Fiscal Stabilization Funds (SFSF) from the federal stimulus to invest exclusively in economic development over two years. These funds were meant to support technology and small business loans, seed capital funding and early stage business support as part of his SmartVermont initiatives. While the Legislature agreed with some of the Governor's proposals, they invested less than half of the funds for year this year on in job creation - instead using this one-time money to pay for on-going government expenditures.

The Vermont Legislature's budget seriously under-funds several key economic development initiatives this year.

"We need to support existing employers and offer incentives to encourage new companies to locate and expand here. If we want to emerge from this recession with a strong and robust economy, we need to get focused on job creation strategies that support employers," Douglas said.

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