After hours of debate, the state legislature passed the Jackson Laboratory project Wednesday evening. The Senate passed the bill 21 to 14 and the House of Representatives by a vote of 101 to 41.
The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine, an institute for personalized medicine, will be built on 17 acres on the lower campus of the Health Center. It’s estimated the project will create 661 research-related jobs and an estimated 6,200 spinoff and indirect jobs.
“Yes, this is about jobs – 6,800 of them,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said in a statement, “But it’s also about a lot more than that. It’s about making Connecticut a leader in a growth industry.”
With manufacturing and other industries in decline in the Northeast, Malloy and Democratic lawmakers have said that Connecticut needs to invest in the fast-growing bioscience industry in order to kick-start the economy and lower the state’s 8.9 percent unemployment rate.
“Our state is embarking in a new and bold direction by welcoming Jackson Labs to our state,” said Sen. Theresa Gerratana, a New Britain Democrat, whose district includes Farmington. “This is going to ensure our economic future.”
“It also positions us to be a leader in translational research,” Gerratana told colleagues on the Senate floor. “And the laboratory’s work along with our teaching hospitals will find new ways to control and eradicate such diseases as Alzheimer’s, cancer, Down syndrome and birth defects.”
The total 20-year capital and research budget for the institute is projected to be $1.1 billion, with Jackson Laboratory providing $809 million through federal research grants, philanthropy and service income, and the state contributing $291 million ($192 million in a construction loan and $99 million in research partnership participation).
“When we think of our investment–and it’s sizeable, and it’s something we have to consider very seriously–we have to realize that they’re putting in three times more money,” said Sen. Eileen Daily, a Westbrook Democrat who co-chairs the tax-writing finance committee. “They’re putting up their reputation to come here. What they will give us in return for our investment is a lead in bioscience. It will give us a culture of industry that we do not have. It will give us world-class research right here in Farmington.”
Gov. Malloy has said the attraction of The Jackson Laboratory to Connecticut is a direct result of the state’s investment in Bioscience Connecticut, a major initiative passed by the General Assembly earlier this year aimed at making Connecticut a global center of bioscience discovery and innovation.
“Today’s vote is a strong vote of confidence in The Jackson Laboratory’s scientific research and contributions to better medicine,” said Dr. Edison Liu, Jackson President and CEO. “By combining Jackson’s strengths in genetics and genetic technologies with the clinical and scientific expertise of Connecticut institutions, we will accelerate the development of new medical tests and treatments tailored to each patient’s unique genetic makeup.”
The building will be 250,000 square feet of state-of-the-art lab space. Officials estimate construction will begin in early 2013 and be completed by the end of 2014.