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North Texas colleges and universities secure $8.8 million in federal grants to biotech workers

presser8.jpg bearded man in blue suit, light blue tie, at lectern with front logo that reads Dallas College. He addresses small group of people
Jason Janik
Dallas College
Dallas College chancellor Justin Lonon calls the $8.8 million federal grant that will help train local biotech workers a "big deal." But he says ultimately, "this is about getting people to work."

Dallas College will take the lead in training people for good paying, biotech jobs. The catalyst is a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration. Public and private sector partners will join in the training that’s expected to deliver 1,100 much-needed workers in a matter of months.

Dallas College was awarded the $8.8 million grant designed to help people from underserved communities gain access to good-paying jobs in the growing biotech field.

Dallas College’s Ben Magill, associate vice chancellor of economic opportunity, workforce and advancement, said healthcare and healthcare support occupations are part of what’s expected to be the fastest growing industry sector. He said this award “will help us establish the critical economic and workforce development infrastructure needed to fill those jobs.”

Other schools included in the three-year grant are Tarrant and Collin colleges and the University of Texas, Arlington.

Numerous employers already lined up to benefit from the training grant are Childrens Health Medical Center, McKesson, Medical City-HCA Healthcare, Tenet Healt, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Texas Health Resources and Evolve Biologics.

They’re all tied into the burgeoning North Texas life science system, some of which is developing in Pegasus Park, a 25-acre multi-building hub for much of the life science activity in Dallas and North Texas.

DFW Hospital Council CEO Steve Love believes this grant may plant seeds that will grow productive for years into the future.

"I've been in health care for 45 years, so I'm an old guy. But I do remember 42 years ago when I was working in a hospital in Greensboro, North Carolina, a little thing called the research triangle began. And while we salute them and they've done great things, Pegasus Park is going to knock their socks off,” Love said.

Dallas College chancellor Justin Lonon called the grant a big deal.

“It's a huge burgeoning area, as we all know. And there's such a tremendous need,” said Lonon. “Ultimately what this is about is getting people to work.”

Lonon expects 1,100 new biotech workers will be trained and ready in a matter of months.

Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.