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

Dedication ceremony held for renovated Ray Park

The newly renovated Ray Park is officially open, as Newnan city officials held a dedication and grand opening celebration on Thursday. &ldqu ... Read More


Watson out as headmaster of The Heritage School

James P. Watson, headmaster of The Heritage School, is no longer a staff member according to a statement released by the school this morning ... Read More


Two injured in rollover accident

Two teenage girls were injured and transported to the hospital after their vehicle overturned multiple times on Highway 154 Thursday. About ... Read More


Suspicious van harbors harmless investigator

A number of SummerGrove residents recently noticed a suspicious man who was allegedly watching children in their neighborhood from a gray va ... Read More


Downtown cleanup Saturday

Operation Cleanup, a trash pickup project for the back streets of downtown Newnan, will be held Saturday from 8 to 10 a.m. Everyone is invit ... Read More

New retail bakery coming to Newnan

Your Chef to Go Inc. will be expanding their catering business to include a retail bakery, as the Newnan City Council approved its rezoning ... Read More