Richmond/Petersburg, VA, September 09, 2022 – Alliance for Building Better Medicine, a coalition of public and private sector stakeholders in the Richmond-Petersburg region, and Governor Glenn Youngkin yesterday honored National Essential Medicine Shortage Awareness Day by announcing $111 Million has been invested by federal, state, local, and private supporters over the past three months to accelerate the development of the advanced pharmaceutical and manufacturing cluster emerging in Central Virginia.
Governor Youngkin and Alliance for Building Better Medicine leaders detailed the series of recent investments designed to address the nation's pressing need for quality, affordable essential medicines as an example of the region’s progress toward addressing critical medicine shortages. In addition, Governor Youngkin signed a proclamation recognizing National Essential Medicine Shortage Awareness Day in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Governor Youngkin celebrated the recent Build Back Better Regional Challenge investment awarded to the public and private sector stakeholders in the Richmond-Petersburg region, working together as a coalition known as the Alliance for Building Better Medicine. The coalition was one of only 21 coalitions among over 500 regions nationally to receive funding. The Build Back Better Regional Challenge grant was $52,942,702 and will be matched by $13,607,184 of funding from local private and public organizations, for a total Build Back Better Regional Challenge investment of $66,549,886. Governor Youngkin also highlighted an additional $44.6 million invested by the Commonwealth in the 2022/23 budget, on top of millions of dollars of state support over the previous three years.
Funded by President Biden’s American Rescue Plan and administered by the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), the Regional Challenge provides each award winner funding to rebuild regional economies, promote inclusive and equitable recovery, and create thousands of good-paying jobs in industries of the future such as clean energy, next-generation manufacturing, and biotechnology.
"On Essential Medicine Shortage Awareness Day, I was pleased to celebrate the public and private partnerships and company expansions that play a critical role in combatting Virginia's pharmaceutical supply challenges. The Richmond-Petersburg region and it’s pharmaceutical companies are key to developing novel technologies that will ensure access to affordable, lifesaving medications while providing high-quality jobs, an incredible boost to Virginia's economy and the Commonwealth's people,” said Governor Youngkin.
During the celebratory event, Governor Youngkin and the Alliance for Building Better Medicine recognized coalition members from across the Richmond-Petersburg region who joined together to make these historic investments possible. In 2020, through an initiative of Virginia Commonwealth University’s College of Engineering, hundreds of stakeholders worked together to design a regional strategy to accelerate the development of the emerging advanced pharmaceutical manufacturing cluster leveraging existing assets. In 2021, the coalition was awarded planning and seed funding from GO Virginia and others totaling $2.5 million. Members of the growing coalition quickly began developing opportunities for the emerging cluster to involve and impact the entire region and its many communities – urban and rural, students, entrepreneurs, small business owners, veterans, and low-income and minority populations disproportionately impacted by economic distress and the COVID-19 pandemic – with the goal of creating high-paying jobs and careers for individuals with a wide range of educational levels and experiences.
In 2021, the coalition won Phase 1 of the Build Back Better Regional Challenge and began to plan in detail the six projects now funded with the support of Activation Capital, AMPAC Fine Chemicals, Brightpoint Community College, Cameron Foundation, City of Petersburg, City of Richmond, Civica Inc., Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing, Community College Workforce Alliance, GENEDGE, Greater Richmond Partnership, Medicines for All Institute at Virginia Commonwealth University College of Engineering, Phlow Corp., Reynolds Community College, Virginia Economic Development Partnership, Virginia’s Gateway Region, and Virginia State University.
“We thank the General Assembly and governor, GO Virginia and VEDP for strong and growing support for this emerging regional cluster. Senators Warner and Kaine and Congressman McEachin provided an enthusiastic voice to EDA in this process as well,” said Chandra Briggman, President and CEO of Activation Capital, an innovation ecosystem development organization that led the formation of the Alliance for Building Better Medicine.
Coalition members will leverage the Build Back Better Regional Challenge funding for six construction and programmatic projects. Examples include the construction of a Development/Scale-up Center to accelerate manufacturing innovation and the commercialization of lab discoveries. This first-of-its-kind facility will support local manufacturing operations and spur collaboration, invention, and investment by speeding bench discoveries to commercial scale. Funding will also be used to develop new and joint degree and research programs between Virginia Commonwealth University and Virginia State University and industry as well as advanced pharmaceutical manufacturing technician training at Brightpoint Community College and laboratory technician training at Reynolds Community College, coordinated by the Community College Workforce Alliance. In addition, funds will be used to construct an Innovation Center with additional wet lab space in Richmond’s Virginia Bio+Tech Park to help existing organizations in the region grow. Support from the EDA will enable local, regional and state economic development organizations to accelerate development of the supply chain needed to produce new research, sales, service, and manufacturing facilities, and new jobs in the Richmond-Petersburg region. Finally, EDA funds will also support improvements to water and wastewater infrastructure in Petersburg’s Poor Creek service area serving the growing manufacturing facilities there.
“Rarely do you find a public, private partnership of this magnitude succeed, but when you have a mission as powerful as the Alliance for Building Better Medicine, the impossible is possible. Whether faced with geopolitics, competing company interests, all levels of government engagement, or workforce development from vocation to graduate level, Virginia’s sibling cities have set the gold standard for rebuilding communities faced with decades of neglect,” said Robby Demeria, Founding Board Chair of the Alliance for Building Better Medicine.
“We are extremely pleased that an initial Region 4 GO Virginia grant has resulted in securing this $52.9 million Build Back Better Regional Challenge federal grant. This award will bring significant benefits to the Petersburg and Richmond region and position Virginia as an international leader in advanced pharmaceutical manufacturing and R&D. The grant will also support onshoring of quality essential generic medicines to the United States. This Pharmaceutical Cluster Scaleup project is the perfect illustration of GO Virginia’s goals, which include fostering private-sector growth, increasing high-paying jobs and encouraging meaningful economic collaboration between localities,” said Mark Hourigan, Chairman of the GO Virginia Region 4 Council.
“I want to thank Activation Capital and Alliance for Building Better Medicine for spearheading months of work on the submission for the Build Back Better Regional Challenge grant. Winning this grant, which includes water and wastewater infrastructure upgrades in Petersburg to support the growth of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing cluster, is a game changer for our city. The number of high-paying jobs and the increase in the tax base provided by the cluster, along with the capacity to attract supply chain businesses, will give Petersburg monies to address critical needs for our citizens,” said City of Petersburg Mayor, Sam Parham.
“This award will help to create long-term economic growth for the city, home to the 34-acre Virginia Bio+Tech Park and the cradle of the region’s life sciences industry, and region. I applaud the work of the regional coalition that has led to this achievement and Richmond’s continued push to be among the top metro areas for life sciences innovation,” said City of Richmond Mayor, Levar M. Stoney.
“The Alliance for Building Better Medicine is a catalyst for the growth of the advanced pharmaceutical manufacturing cluster that has emerged in the Richmond-Petersburg region, and this grant award is a game changer that will further advance the regional strategy and solidify Virginia as a significant player in domestic drug manufacturing,” said Jason El Koubi, President and CEO at the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.
“The Build Back Better Regional Challenge grant will be transformational for the Alliance for Building Better Medicine’s efforts to promote our region’s pharma manufacturing story to site location professionals and corporate decision makers. The Richmond-Petersburg region is primed to attract job-creating vital medicine companies, and this grant will help achieve that mission,” said Jennifer Wakefield, President and CEO of the Greater Richmond Partnership.
“Virginia’s Gateway Region is delighted to be part of the regional team that has worked with the U.S. EDA to make this transformational investment in Petersburg, Virginia – the epicenter of the pharmaceutical cluster. This award will help develop and strengthen the cluster, all while embracing equitable economic growth, creating good-paying jobs, and enhancing our global competitiveness. Much of this federal investment will be channeled to upgrade the water and sewer infrastructure in the region, creating a sustainable supply chain to positively impact economic prosperity,” said Keith Boswell, President and CEO of Virginia’s Gateway Region Economic Development Organization.
“This federal funding will be transformative for the advanced pharmaceutical manufacturing industry in Greater Richmond and will help our nation address affordable medication needs. It will generate job opportunities, diversify the workforce and talent pipeline in a growing industry, and solidify the capital region from Baltimore to Richmond as a national pharmaceutical leader for innovation, R&D, and manufacturing. We congratulate the Virginia Biotechnology Research Partnership Authority on their successful Build Back Better grant application and look forward to supporting its implementation,” said Peter Scher, Vice Chairman at JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Board Chair at the Greater Washington Partnership.
“This support from the Build Back Better Regional Challenge underscores the critical importance of collaborations such as the Alliance that bring many partners together to build a secure supply of affordable medications here in the U.S. We are proud that my faculty colleagues who are experts in the Medicines for All Institute are making discoveries that will translate to lower cost medications and that we have the opportunity to help train a more diverse workforce that will make this effort sustainable for future generations,” said Michael Rao, Ph.D., President at VCU and VCU Health System.
“The support of the Economic Development Association is so important to the future security of pharmaceutical manufacturing in America. We are particularly excited about the opportunities this opens up for collaboration with our sister universities in training the next generation of pharmaceutical engineers and workforce who will carry this important work forward,” said Gary C. Tepper, Ph.D., Interim Dean at VCU College of Engineering.
“Bringing pharmaceutical manufacturing to Central Virginia has the potential to benefit all Americans. The support of this Build Back Better Regional Challenge grant allows us to accelerate the process of pharmaceutical optimization in the lab so our partners can begin producing needed medicines at full scale much faster. This is hugely positive for Virginia and for America, and opens doors to exciting careers for students at VCU, VSU, and across the region and state,” said B. Frank Gupton, Ph.D., CEO of Medicines for All Institute (M4ALL) based at Virginia Commonwealth University's College of Engineering and Chair, Chemical and Life Science Engineering, Virginia Commonwealth University.
"This is a tremendous win for Virginia State University, the region, and the State of Virginia. The funded partnership project will serve to further provide VSU students a pathway to graduate programs or to join the workforce in the field of Advanced Pharmaceutical Manufacturing. It also allows VSU to play a more impactful role in the regional economic renaissance. As an 1890 land-grant university, we believe in outreach to improve the quality of life of others. This project is the epitome of that outreach on a national scale. Not only does this work have the potential to expand Virginia's pharmaceutical industry – but it has the potential to lower medication costs for millions of Americans. We look forward to the life changing implications of this partnership and to more collaborative opportunities in the future,” said Dr. Makola M. Abdullah, President at Virginia State University.
“Virginia State University is very pleased to be part of a coalition that works to strengthen the regional economy through infrastructure, innovation, workforce, and supply chain developments. The support from the Build Back Better Regional Challenge grant will help to enhance VSU’s commitment to cultivate talents through new dual degree programs, accelerated graduate programs, internships, and paid-credit-bearing-applied-learning experiences. The collaborative effort will provide learning pathways for students at VSU and diversify the workforce in pharmaceutical engineering. Graduates from the program will have a bright future in advanced pharmaceutical manufacturing careers,” said Dawit Haile, Ph.D., Dean of the College of Engineering and Technology at Virginia State University.
“Located in the middle of the BioTech Park in Richmond, Reynolds Community College is a natural partner in this exciting and transformative effort. We are wholly committed to better lives through a good living and this grant will allow us to expand our capacity in high demand programs that pay strong wages. In short, we will be better positioned to deliver on two key promises – provide our community with state-of-the-art programming that prepares them for good jobs, and deliver to our local and regional employers a world-class talent pipeline,” said Paula P. Pando, Ed.D., President at Reynolds Community College.
“Working with my colleagues to develop education and training programs to prepare technicians and operators for career opportunities in pharmaceutical manufacturing has been a highlight of my career. Thanks to this grant, Brightpoint Community College and CCWA will be able to offer future and current job seekers a range of options to prepare for a career in the industry – from a one-year career studies certificate to accelerated workforce credential training to a program designed to give young people from Petersburg and the surrounding region the coaching, support services, and foundational skills they need to succeed,” said Elizabeth Creamer, Vice President, Workforce Development, Community College Workforce Alliance (CCWA), a partnership of Reynolds and Brightpoint Community Colleges.
“Brightpoint Community College and the Community College Workforce Alliance are very pleased to be part of this initiative. Our primary goal is to support the workforce needs of the pharmaceutical companies that call this region home by developing and offering training programs to prepare our citizens for high-wage positions in the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry,” said Dr. Edward (“Ted”) Raspiller, President at Brightpoint Community College.
“The Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing is pleased the Economic Development Administration has recognized our region with a Build Back Better Region Challenge grant award. CCAM is committed to executing manufacturing excellence for regional growth. The award represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Virginia, and we are dedicating resources to ensure its success for years to come,” said John Milton-Benoit, President and CEO at CCAM.
“GENEDGE, the NIST MEP National Network Affiliate for Virginia is exceptionally pleased with this award. Our team will provide core services to develop an equitable and robust supply chain to support this rapidly growing advanced pharma cluster. In addition, Phlow recognizes that information security is paramount to the success of maintaining a technological advantage. We will establish appropriate cyber security risk management systems throughout the supply chain, to assure that intellectual property is not compromised,” said Bill Donohue, GENEDGE President & Executive Director.
“Phlow is honored to have played a leading role in the founding board of the Alliance for Building Better Medicine and to be working hand-in-hand with its growing coalition of public and private sector stakeholders dedicated to creating a reliable supply of safe, high-quality, and affordable medicines. Together, we are making the Richmond-Petersburg region the central access point for advanced pharmaceutical manufacturing where medicines critical to the health of our nation are researched, accelerated, and sustainably created in the U.S. from start to finish,” said Eric Edwards, M.D., Ph.D., President, Co-founder, and CEO of Phlow.
“We are honored to be a part of the Alliance for Building Better Medicine and are thrilled with the news of this award. This is an exciting example of public-private partnerships in action. Civica, with our growing pharmaceutical manufacturing team in Petersburg, looks forward to doing our part by delivering quality medicines for critical patient care in Virginia and across the United States,” said Ned McCoy, President and CEO of Civica.
“AMPAC is proud to be a manufacturing resource able to support ‘American Made’ medicines essential to becoming more independent from foreign supplies of critical drug substances and materials. Our Virginia team is dedicated to fully enabling the Commonwealth’s groundbreaking initiatives,” said Dr. Jeff Butler, President at AMPAC Fine Chemicals.
“Continuous Processing technologies are a critical tool to enabling lower cost medicines and our AMPAC VA operations are committed to bringing these capabilities into larger scale commercial manufacturing. We are working closely with our coalition partners to expand these capabilities at the Petersburg campus,” said Dr. Bill DuBay, Global Vice President for Research and Development at AMPAC Fine Chemicals.
“The Build Back Better Regional Challenge award brings enormous prestige. The region is one of only 21 winners from 500+ regions across the nation that competed in this historically ambitious EDA program. The award will help key players in the region build infrastructure, R&D assets, and human resources to accelerate the growth of this cluster, attract investment, and create great-paying jobs. It will enhance the global reputation of this region and state and shine a light on our dynamic, innovative, and entrepreneurial neighbors and friends who have taken on one of the great challenges facing the nation – securing a domestic supply of quality affordable medicines for all,” said Jeff Gallagher, Interim Executive Director at the Alliance for Building Better Medicine. Read more about this transformational award and how the Alliance for Building Better Medicine is scaling up the region’s advanced pharmaceutical manufacturing and R&D cluster to address the nation's pressing need for quality, affordable essential medicines at https://buildingbettermedicine.com/award.