Massachusetts Life Sciences Center

Mount Wachusett Community College President Daniel M. Asquino accepts a certificate marking the $1.6 million grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center from Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. Also pictured (from left) are MWCC Vice President of External Affairs, Communications and K-12 Partnerships Lea Ann Scales, President and CEO of the MLSC Travis McCready, Gardner Mayor Mark Hawke, MWCC Dean of the School of Health Professions, Public Service Programs and Social Sciences Eileen Costello and Vice President of Academic Affairs Melissa Fama.

Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito joined Massachusetts Life Sciences Center President and CEO Travis McCready, local elected officials, and officials from Central Massachusetts educational institutions, to celebrate $2.9 million in capital grant funding for regional workforce development and STEM education projects that included $1.6 million to Mount Wachusett Community College.

The grants, from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC), advance the Baker-Polito Administration’s commitment to build a highly trained workforce and seed job creation in regions across Massachusetts.

Lieutenant Governor Polito celebrated the regional grant awards at a ceremony at Mount Wachusett Community College in Gardner. Mount Wachusett is receiving over $1.6 million in MLSC grant funding, enabling the college to renovate and equip a new medical laboratory facility, and significantly improving the quality of hands-on training for students.

“This grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center will allow us to equip a state-of-the-art medical laboratory technology classroom and create a new life sciences lecture room,” said Mount Wachusett Community College President Daniel M. Asquino. “These improvements will allow us to better serve numerous science, medical and liberal arts students as well as expand the medical laboratory technology program that prepares graduates for the high-demand medical and clinical laboratory technician field.”

The awards are part of a statewide grant round that is delivering a total of $39 million in MLSC capital grants to 14 research and educational institutions, and 49 middle and high schools, across Massachusetts.

“Investments in the vitality of the Massachusetts workforce are critical to ensuring long-term growth in our economy,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Our ongoing efforts to deliver a high-quality STEM education to middle- and high-school students, and our focus on delivering impactful workforce training opportunities at community colleges and other institutions of higher education, will allow Massachusetts residents to access quality careers in growing fields, including robotics, advanced manufacturing, healthcare, and biotechnology.”

In addition to the $1,646,787 grant to MWCC, Dean College and Framingham State University also received $297,030 and $454,000. Additionally, seven area high schools received $487,543 in funding for labs and other STEM-related improvements.

“The MLSC continues to make major capital investments to support education and training at academic institutions across the entire Commonwealth in order to meet the workforce needs of our state’s fastest-growing industry,” said Travis McCready, President and CEO of the MLSC. “Our capital grants will enable Mt. Wachusett Community College, Framingham State University and Dean College to significantly enhance their capacity for workforce training, so that our students will be better prepared for career opportunities in the life sciences. Through our STEM equipment and supply grants, area high schools and middle schools will be better positioned to connect students with jobs in the fast-growing Massachusetts life sciences ecosystem. In both cases, we are excited to play a role in supporting economic growth and workforce preparedness in Central Massachusetts.”

The MLSC’s Competitive Capital Program, from which funding for the college’s was provided, funds grants for capital projects that support the life sciences ecosystem in Massachusetts by enabling and supporting life sciences workforce development and training, research and development, commercialization and manufacturing in the Commonwealth. The program funds high-potential economic development projects by nonprofit entities that make significant contributions to the state’s life sciences ecosystem. To date, the MLSC has awarded or committed more than $405 million to support capital projects across the state.

Pictured from left, QCC President Gail Carberry; QCC biotechnology student Jose Cruz; Governor Deval Patrick; MWCC Allied Health student Jenna Bonci; MWCC President Daniel Asquino; and Beth Nicklas, Massachusetts Life Sciences Center General Counsel and Vice President for Academic and Workforce Programs.

Governor Deval Patrick has announced nearly $1 million in grants to support life sciences related capital projects for Mount Wachusett Community College and Quinsigamond Community College to better respond to the region’s growing need for skilled workers in biotechnology, biomedical engineering and pharmaceuticals. The Governor made the announcement at QCC on March 6.

“In order for Massachusetts to continue to create jobs and prosper, we must train our workers for the jobs of the 21st century global economy,” said Governor Patrick. “Our innovation economy relies on a well-educated, well-skilled workforce, and these grants will expand opportunity and grow jobs in central Massachusetts.”

MWCC was awarded a $500,000 grant to upgrade aging and outdated equipment and add new equipment that aligns with current industry standards for its core life sciences courses in biology, organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology and plant science. These courses provide the basic foundation for MWCC’S existing biotechnology, natural resources and clinical laboratory science degree programs and three new proposed degree programs in quality and analytical technology, liberal arts and sciences biology and chemistry to be rolled out in fall 2014. The funding will make it possible for MWCC to substantially improve its curriculum to integrate more hands-on, real-world laboratory experiences and add an organic chemistry course, an equipment heavy foundational course for biological sciences and molecular biology studies. The grant will enable MWCC to fully upgrade its laboratory science equipment and to ensure employers have the skilled workforce they require for creating and retaining jobs in the life sciences.

“As Mount Wachusett Community College prepares to break ground this fall on a new science and technology building, the continued support of the Commonwealth, through this generous grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, could not be more timely and appreciated,” said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. “This funding will enable us to provide cutting-edge equipment for our new laboratories, as well as much-needed upgrades to existing laboratories to enhance the academic experience for our students and ensure that employers have the skilled workforce they need for creating and retaining jobs in the STEM fields.”

Student Jenna Bonci, who is preparing for a career in health care, also represented MWCC at the event.

“I believe that all students enrolled in life science courses and programs at the Mount will benefit from this updated equipment and from the commitment it represents to their academic success. With this grant, students will be able to transition to their future jobs with a better understanding of the ever-changing equipment and strategies within the life sciences,” she said.

Earlier that day, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that Massachusetts added over 55,000 jobs in 2013, the largest number of jobs created in a single year in nearly 15 years.

Under Governor Patrick’s leadership, Massachusetts has emerged as the global leader in life sciences. Through the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC), Massachusetts is investing $1 billion over 10 years in the growth of the state’s life sciences ecosystem. To date, the MLSC has awarded more than $330 million to support life sciences-related capital projects across the state, creating thousands of jobs and more than 1.3 million square feet of new education, research and manufacturing space.

“The life sciences sectors are now the fastest job producers in Massachusetts so a key strategy of the Life Sciences Center is to use our capital dollars to ensure that students all across the Commonwealth are prepared to compete successfully for these jobs,” said Dr. Susan Windham-Bannister, Ph.D., President & CEO of the MLSC. “The projects at Quinsigamond Community College and Mount Wachusett Community College are great examples of our investments to achieve that objective. Community colleges, and the six high schools we are recognizing today, play major roles in training the next generation of our state’s life sciences workforce, and they ensure that training for innovation economy jobs is inclusive and available all across the state. Our grants help ensure that these schools can provide students with first-rate training facilities.”

“One reason our innovation economy is strong and growing is because of our state’s strong higher education institutions,” said Secretary Housing and Economic Development Greg Bialecki. “This funding will help ensure that these facilities are equipped with the tools and support they need to provide world-class education and training opportunities.”

“Mount Wachusett Community College is uniquely poised to innovate in the life sciences sector because it is a top public educational institution,” Senator Stephen M. Brewer. “I am honored to support this grant, and to represent the Mount Wachusett community in the Senate.”

“This funding comes at a perfect time for Mount Wachusett Community College, as they begin making major renovations to their science facilities in the coming months,” said Senator Jennifer L. Flanagan. “Many thanks to the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center; the Mount, as they always do, will do great things with this support.”

“Mount Wachusett Community College is an important part of our community and it is wonderful to see them have the opportunity to continue to grow,” said Representative Jonathan D. Zlotnik. “Many thanks to the Massachusetts Life Science Center for their support of the new upgrades for MWCC that will benefit students and educators for many years to come.”