When Governor McCrory released his preliminary budget last week, three ag entities were hit very hard; the NC Rural Center, Golden Leaf and the NC Biotech Center. Norris Tolson, President & CEO of the NC Biotech Center:
“The budget was a disappointment to us from the standpoint that we don’t think it recognized sufficiently the tremendous amount of good work that has been done by the Biotech Center in the life sciences world, including agriculture. This has been, and continues to be the mainstay of North Carolina’s jobs economy.”
As has been noted, this is only the beginning of the budget process, and Tolson says their work is just getting started:
“We do know that we have very strong support in the General Assembly, both on the house and senate sides. Even though we have a lot of new members, there are some that understand quite well how much the life sciences industry has done for this state in terms of job creation and wealth generation. So we believe that when the final budget issues, that we will be ok.”
Tolson says that the NC Biotech Center’s record of job and revenue generation speaks for itself when it comes to lobbying for more money at the General Assembly:
“This industry put $1.7-1.8 billion dollars into state coffers in terms of state and local taxes, that is a big number in a state that has a $20 billion dollar budget. We think that the industry deserves some special attention from the General Assembly.”
Tolson says the Biotech Center would like to be back in the budget at least $17.2 million, which would allow them to maintain their current pace.
Tolson outlines the possible scenario of the Biotech Center should have to make severe cutbacks:
“Whatever our budget turns out to be, you can count on the fact that other states are watching carefully to see what NC does. Texas, Florida, South Carolina, Georgia and others would like to have a lot of what we already have here in NC, so if we blink and regress a bit in the funding of this industry, they will be very quick to step in to our gap and take the jobs that we would have created and put them in their states. It’s a competitive situation and their readiness to invest is real.”
Final budget figures out of the General Assembly aren’t expected until June.
Norris Tolson, President & CEO of the NC Biotech Center.