Bond Package Allows Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute to Double in Size
Sunday, March 13, 2016
The bond package agreement released by the General Assembly includes about $45 million to double the size of the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, a major expansion that local lawmakers hailed as one of the biggest economic development strides the region has seen in years.
“This is a great opportunity for our region as we move to diversify our economy and grow jobs,” said Del. Nick Rush, R-Christiansburg, a new member of the House Appropriations Committee.
The expansion will not only help usher in new jobs at the research institute itself, Rush said, it will help lead to the development of new technologies that could spur new businesses to form in the area.“Innovation leads to more innovation, which leads to more capital, which leads to more opportunities for everyone,” he said.
Current plans call for a 105,000-square-foot addition that will allow the Roanoke-based campus to grow from 25 to 50 research teams, said Sen. John Edwards, D-Roanoke. The current teams already employ about 250 researchers and students engaged in cutting-edge research in neuroscience, cancer biology and other biomedical fields.
The addition would also support programs for hundreds of Tech students studying health, science and technology.
“This is one of the most important economic development programs in our region in a long time,” Edwards said. “The research institute has already been extraordinarily successful. It’s just been remarkable what they’re doing.”
The bond agreement, passed by the General Assembly in the final hours of the session, restored construction money for the expansion that was backed by the governor but deferred in earlier drafts put together by the House and Senate.
Reinstating the money became a key regional budget priority. Lawmakers and research institute leaders worked to make the case to the General Assembly’s budget negotiators, stressing that planning for the project was much further along than legislators previously realized and Tech and Carilion were prepared to move forward expeditiously if the money was there.
Del. Joseph Yost, R-Pearisburg, said the recent push benefited from years of groundwork the region laid by reaching out to legislators and inviting them to visit and see firsthand the work being done at the institute.