Georgia biomedical industry lobbies for capital

By Walter C. Jones
Morris News Service
ATLANTA – Executives from Georgia pharmaceutical and medical-equipment companies met with legislators Monday to push for various initiatives designed to provide money for research companies.
Georgia Bio, the trade association formed for companies in the life-sciences business, hosted coffee and biscuits for legislators and their staff as they arrived at statehouse and later held a luncheon where they formally presented the agenda. 
“The nice thing about the bio industry, it doesn’t need handouts. It needs a helpful business climate,” said Georgia Bio President Russell Allen.
While the trade group may not be seeking a direct handout, it is seeking funding for the state’s research universities and the Georgia Research Alliance. Last year, it successfully fought to keep funding for the Georgia Medical Center Authority, an Augusta-based business incubator for spinoffs from Georgia Regents University. Gov. Nathan Deal’s budget again calls for eliminating funds for the authority.
Georgia Bio also supports renewal of a tax credit for so-called angel investors, those who put in take the biggest risks by investing in the earliest of start-ups. It also favors a proposal mentioned by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle that would transfer some of the state’s income from a national tobacco settlement into a pool that would invest in young companies in conjunction with other venture-capital funds. Georgia Bio championed last year’s measure to allow the non-teacher, state-employee pension fund to invest in start-ups.
“The idea is to keep this topic in the forefront of legislators’ minds,” said Melissa Nikolic, Georgia Bio’s director of education. 
Having more than 150,000 Georgia jobs connected to the industry helps.
Among the top employers in the state’s $17 billion bio industry are Merial, Johnson & Johnson, Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Baxter International’s decision last year to build a $1 billion plant in Covington will boost Georgia’s national status as a biomedical research center which will help attract other life-sciences employers, according to Allen. And it’s not all happening in Atlanta.
“We see great activity in Athens. The University of Georgia continues to be a source of agricultural research,” he said. “And the medical college in Augusta spins out innovations, and I understand there are a lot of life-sciences companies in the Savannah area.”


More Local

Coco's Cupboard

Partnership works to find service dogs for veterans

Dog trainers Suzanne Aaron and Tara Cotton saw many clients who had dogs they just couldn’t handle. They would help the owners find do ... Read More


250 students affected

Homelessness ‘vicious cycle that’s going to continue’

The economy has bounced back from the lows of a few years ago. The housing market is healthy, and the jobless rate has improved. But, for so ... Read More


Annual Sunrise on the Square Road Race a success

The annual Sunrise on the Square included ideal weather and a first-time winner who actually pushed his baby in a stroller. The race, hosted ... Read More


HealthSouth facility scheduled to open Dec. 2

Progress for HealthSouth’s new facility is on track for a Dec. 2 opening, which will add to the town’s growing collection of hea ... Read More


Subsidized medical center proposed for Senoia

Palmetto Health Council is applying for a grant to bring a subsidized medical clinic to Coweta, proposed for the Senoia area. The non-profit ... Read More

Economic Impact

Ports hit new record

The Georgia Ports Authority moved more than 3 million 20-foot equivalent container units in fiscal year 2014 – and set a new record fo ... Read More