Boston- State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D-Pittsfield) voted on Thursday to invest $1 billion in the state’s burgeoning life sciences industry. Historic in size and scope, the highly-anticipated legislation creates a new environment for the future economy with incentives for job growth, research, and development that will secure the Commonwealth’s position as a leader in biotechnology.
“This legislation will ensure that the Commonwealth stays competitive with the rest of the world in this economic sector. Further, it will help researchers to develop new medications and cures to serious illnesses,” said Downing. “It makes perfect sense for the Legislature to craft this incentive package - we have all the components here in Massachusetts to support a strong life sciences industry: world-class universities, medical centers and a highly trained and educated work force.”
The economic development package takes a targeted approach to growing high-paying, quality jobs, drawing biotech companies to Massachusetts, and retaining talented scientists and researchers at state institutions. It also includes funding for development of the world’s largest stem-cell bank at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester that will be a significant tool in researching and developing new treatments.
The 10-year initiative includes $250 million in tax credits for life sciences companies that promise to create jobs in the Commonwealth and $250 million for direct research grants to encourage the best and brightest in the industry to conduct research in Massachusetts. It also includes $500 million in capital investments for construction and improvement projects in the industry.
Locally, the life sciences bill authorizes $6.5 million for the design, construction and development of a 30,000 square-foot life science incubator building at the William Stanley Business Park in the City of Pittsfield. This earmark was secured by Downing and State Representative Christopher N. Speranzo (D – Pittsfield).
Other provisions of the bill include:
· Twenty-five million dollars will be appropriated annually over 10 years to the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) to provide direct grants and programs for the industry.
· Initiatives considered for funding include seed money to address federal funding shortfalls for life science research, aid to post-doctoral and graduate students studying life sciences, the establishment of new grant programs to boost the biotechnology workforce, and “requipment” grants that provide funding for the state’s vocational and technical schools to train the next generation of life science employees.
· Capital expenditures include $299.5 million in allocations for infrastructure improvements statewide. Some locations identified for new scientific research centers include Pittsfield, Lowell, Springfield, Framingham, Dartmouth, Boston, Taunton and Woods Hole. The remaining $200.5 million will go to the Massachusetts Life Science Center Fund, allowing MLCS the freedom to provide capital funds for unforeseen initiatives and life sciences projects in the next 10 years.
· The bill includes $25 million in tax incentives for certified life sciences companies, including a tax credit toward the purchase of property for life sciences companies, extending from five to 15 years the tax exemption for life sciences companies and additional tax credits for companies located in identified economic opportunity areas throughout the state.
· The bill allows life sciences companies to apply for eligibility as a “certified life sciences project” to receive one or more of nine refundable tax credits.
The bill is now before the Governor for his signature and final approval.