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STLCC to Lease Space in BRDG Park at the Danforth Plant Science Center

March 25, 2009

St. Louis Community College soon will be leasing 10,500 square feet in the first of three buildings at the Bio-Research and Development Growth (BRDG) Park at the Danforth Plant Science Center to serve as the home for the college’s Center for Plant and Life Sciences.

Opening in summer 2009, the BRDG Park is designed to provide much needed wet lab space for companies from the incubation to post-incubation stages. One of the key missing pieces for growing the plant and life sciences industry in the St. Louis region has been the absence of wet lab space for companies that graduate from the incubators. BRDG Park will be the key to increasing the industry and job opportunities for students from STLCC.

The proposed space for STLCC will consist of three labs, one for tissue culture, one for molecular biology and one dedicated to bio-manufacturing. It also will include prep areas for the labs, an instrumentation lab, teaching classroom and office space for the center’s staff and faculty who might be teaching at the facility. The lease is for 15 years.

“This agreement provides an unprecedented opportunity to not only meet our goal to grow the life sciences, but also to take our students to the world by working in a place that is focused on the cutting edge in bioscience research,” said Zelema Harris, STLCC chancellor. “The college has worked to position itself as the premier provider of training to facilitate the growth of the plant and life sciences industry. This partnership will result in the greatest benefits for our students and our role in the growth of the BioBelt.”

Sam Fiorello, president of BRDG Park, said: “Having the college’s biotech workforce training program within the BRDG Park facility will allow the college and its industry partners to develop a workforce training model that will be the envy of other regions. It will create unlimited and innovative opportunities for collaboration between academia and industry.”

BRDG Park’s location on the Danforth Center’s campus affords access to the intellectual capital of top scientists, as well as to greenhouses, growth chambers, microscopy and proteomics facilities and other vital resources. Located in suburban St. Louis County, BRDG Park is being developed by Wexford Science+Technology LLC, a privately held real estate developer and investment company that has developed six major research parks nationwide.

The college’s Center for Plant and Life Sciences supports industry-specific programs such as biotechnology, chemical technology, clinical laboratory technology and horticulture. While there is no plan to move any academic programs to the facility, some upper-level courses that can benefit from the lab space or from adjunct faculty available from Danforth, Monsanto, or one of the companies located within BRDG Park will be taught at the facility. Students will have the opportunity to intern with the college’s on-site contract research organization and be involved with real-world research. The space also will provide a real-world training environment for students in the Life Sciences Career Pathways program. This partnership program between STLCC and Better Family Life Inc. is designed to recruit minority participants and train them for entry-level work with local biotech and bio-pharma manufacturing companies.

“Embedding workforce development in a real-world scientific environment will create a national model for addressing workforce needs within the plant and life sciences,” said Richard Norris, director of the Center for Plant and Life Sciences. “It also assists growing companies to navigate the critical first five years of their existence and keep them in the St. Louis region as a means for growing the industry locally."