By Bill Parry
Long Island City is in the running for a $100 million-world-class Applied Life Sciences Campus that will drive bio-engineering innovations, research and development partnerships and entrepreneurial training. The campus will serve as an institutional anchor for the life sciences industry, much as Cornell-Tech will serve as an anchor for applied sciences and engineering, Mayor Bill de Blasio revealed Tuesday.
The campus will be part of a $500-million initiative, LifeSci NYC, that will spur an estimated 16,000 new, good-paying jobs and establish New York City as a global leader in life sciences and research, the mayor said. New Yorkers hoping to secure a career-track job in a growing industry and struggling with the rising cost of living will have access to 1,000 paid internships, new training programs and job placements in a field with average salaries of $75,000.
“We have to break the vice grip of stagnant wages and the ever-rising cost of living in this city. That’s why we are giving thousands of New Yorkers a foothold in the 21st century economy through paid internships, training and career-track jobs,” de Blasio said. “We are creating a springboard into the innovative Life Science economy for our workers, innovators and start-up businesses that will make our whole economy stronger.”
The life sciences and biotechnology industry includes a wide array of disciplines focused on developing cures, treatments and technologies. Its companies work to develop new vaccines and pharmaceuticals, build advanced prosthetic devices, and design software that makes diagnostics more accurate. With a 16 percent growth in jobs since 2009, the life sciences sector is among the fastest growing in the city.
City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) is advocating for the campus to be located in Long Island City. The city will begin looking at proposals for locations in LIC and Manhattan’s Upper East Side, where the Life Sciences sector is already strong.
“It is essential that the city remain an attractive place for scientists, engineers and all who work in the life sciences, and I am pleased to work with the administration to bring a Life Science campus to New York City,” Van Bramer said. “I can think of no better place to locate this campus than Long Island City to make these jobs and training opportunities available to Queens residents. I will continue to advocate for this campus to be sited in our neighborhood.”
The mayor said Long Island City was particularly attractive because it is “literally just a quick ferry ride across the river” from Manhattan, where so many of the key institutions are right now. The plan for the Long Island City, and the initiative itself, drew the endorsement of Borough President Melinda Katz.
“Long Island City is a logical place to be the nation’s next great tech hub, so that neighborhood will therefore have much to gain from the ‘LifeSci NYC’ program,” Katz said. “The entire borough of Queens will also benefit from the good quality jobs that will be created under this initiative. Mayor de Blasio and the New York City Economic Development Corporation deserve to be commended for spearheading and generously investing to turn Queens and the entire city into a welcome home for the life sciences industry, one of the key industries driving the 21st century economy.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr