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Community colleges awarded $1.3m to support life sciences

The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center this week awarded nearly $1.3 million in grants to two local community colleges to renovate and expand laboratories and biotechnology facilities.

Northern Essex Community College, which has campuses in Haverhill and Lawrence, will receive $1.24 million. Middlesex Community College, in Lowell and Bedford, will receive $50,000.

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In December, the center announced more than $500,000 in grants to local vocational technical schools and public high schools for equipment and supplies to support science, technology, engineering, and math programs.

The grants are part of a state initiative to invest $1 billion over 10 years in the growth of life sciences, which was approved by the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Deval Patrick in 2008.

The announcement of the grants was made at Northern Essex Community College on Monday.

“High schools and colleges like Northern Essex and Middlesex are training the next generation of Massachusetts’ life science workers,” said Susan Windham-Bannister, president and CEO of the life sciences center, a quasi-public agency affiliated with the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development.

“We want to ensure that these schools have the first-rate training facilities they need to prepare young people to successfully compete for jobs at all levels of the life sciences,” Windham-Bannister added. “A recent study shows that the life science sectors are now creating jobs faster than any other sector in the state, so employers will be relying on this talent pipeline.”

‘Colleges like Northern Essex and Middlesex are training the next generation of life science workers.’

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With the $1.24 million grant, Northern Essex plans to renovate labs on both campuses and build a new lab in Lawrence. The college offers an associate’s degree in laboratory sciences focused on training workers in the analytical chemistry and biotechnology fields. Since the program began three years ago, enrollment has tripled.

“This generous grant will allow us to dramatically improve lab facilities on our Haverhill and Lawrence campuses,” said Lane Glenn, president of Northern Essex. “Our students will benefit, as well as the local companies which count on the college to provide employees with the very latest skills.”

Middlesex Community College’s grant is for a comprehensive planning study to find the best approach for expanding its biotechnology facilities.

“The college is thrilled with the support this grant will provide to Middlesex to allow us to utilize both industry and technical experts to review and consider updates to our facilities which will benefit our students, our business partners, and the local economy,” said Carole Cowan, president of Middlesex.

“Biotech is one of the most exciting, successful, and dynamic programs we have at the college,” she said. “And, this grant helps ensure that future graduates of the program will find continued success in this critical industry.”

The high school grants went to Greater Lowell Regional Technical High School in Lowell, $89,936; Haverhill High School, $99,289; Lynn English High School, $77,419; North Shore Technical High School in Middleton, $99,999; Northeast Metropolitan Regional Vocational School in Wakefield, $71,610; and Shawsheen Valley Regional Vocational Technical School in Billerica, $95,928.

Wendy Killeen can be reached at wdkilleen@gmail.com.
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