Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, was selected by the national government to implement one of three national biosecurity centers on June 13th of 2012. This designation was accompanied by $285.6 million contract to Texas A&M, most of which came directly from the Federal government while the rest was generated by academic and commercial partners, as well as the state of Texas.
To put the magnitude of this project and grant in perspective, John Sharp (Chancellor of Texas A&M University) explained that, “simply put, this is one of the biggest federal grants to come to Texas since NASA.” This new biosecurity center is estimated by the University of Pittsburg to bring in a thousand direct jobs to the area of the program, along with over six thousand indirect jobs as a result. The Federal Government also announced that it is expecting to award up to $1.2 billion for the project.
So what does this mean for the Bryan, College Station area? What does it mean for a Bryan Home or College Station home? It means that we are about to grow. A lot.
Before we get into all that, however, it might be interesting to consider the project itself. So what exactly are these “national biosecurity centers”? What’s their purpose? And how are they going to achieve them?
The expanded name of the center is the Texas A&M Center for Innovation and Advanced Development and Manufacturing. This is probably the less revealing title for the program, considering the main goal of the project, according to Sharp, will be to enhance “the nation’s ability to counter biological and pandemic threats, both known and unknown, with vaccines manufactured here in the United States.”
Texas A&M professors elaborated, claiming that the goal will be to produce 50 million vaccines in four months. This number is massive, primarily because in the state of emergency, (such as an outbreak of pandemic influenza or a biological attack) similar production efficiency will be needed.
The Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives, Brett P. Giroir, M.D, put it best: “The Center for Innovation will enhance the nation’s emergency preparedness by providing surge capacity for vaccines and medical countermeasures to chemical and biological events.” Giroir also claimed that the hope for the center will have an additional positive impact on global health and national academic research.
Put in short, the Center will…
• Develop and manufacture vaccines to protect against pandemic influenza
• Provide therapies in the event of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats
• Perform advanced development, accelerating vaccines and other biosecurity products through pre-clinical and clinical development, leading to licensure
• Train the next generation of professionals in areas required to sustain this national capability, including process engineering, pharmaceutical manufacturing, veterinary sciences, quality and regulatory affairs.
The Center for Innovation is anticipated to be fully operational by December, 2015: kick-starting a 25 year long commitment through their contract with the federal government. The project is estimated to bring in up to 1,000, most of which centered within the Brazos Valley, and a 1.3 billion economic impact to Texas in the first five years alone.
That’s a lot of cash. In fact, before A&M was awarded the project, City of Bryan Mayor Jason Bienski commented that, should they land it, the impact on the local economy would be the “greatest thing since Texas A&M” was founded.
To add to this monumental potential for growth, it is also a well known reality that most biotechnical research and businesses are concentrated on the east and west coasts. However, thanks to the efforts of Governor Rick Perry and multiple biotechnical corporations, Texas A&M landed the biosecurity project. In the words of Sharp once again, Texas is steadily becoming “the ‘third coast’ of the biopharmaceuticals industry.”
The center will be located in the Middle of the ‘Research Valley’, a plot of land off the corner of 2818 and University Road that is shared by the cities of Bryan and College Station. Texas A&M hopes to make the particular 147 acres allocated for the project a part of a ‘bio-corridor’ that they want to make a hub for biotechnology research. This will no doubt work toward the overall western expansion of the city, sparked by the development and growth of Texas A&M’s Health Science Center off of Highway 47.
The economic and academic effects of this project will be far too broad for prediction. The steady, strong growth of Texas A&M’s research departments have long been an attribute toward the University’s prestige. The magnitude of this new project is also bound to bring in more money for the university, more jobs, attract more future student applicants.
The sudden effect of up to 7,000 new jobs in the Bryan, College Station area will undoubtedly have a prosperous effect on real estate and local businesses. New neighborhoods will be built as the city continues to expand westward, new shopping centers and restaurants, banks and schools. College Station, a city that has known only growth since the founding of Texas A&M University will continue to grow even more rapidly as the weight of their new bio-security center takes hold.
And the growth won’t stop there. Texas A&M signed a 25 year contract with the federal government. That’s 25 years of maintained prosperity for the growing west of College Station and Bryan, Texas: all thanks to government funding. I guess federal spending isn’t really all that bad, so long as you’re on the receiving end.
CENTURY 21 Beal, Inc.