Major cuts have been made to education and training programs at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center. When the latest state budget was signed, the North Carolina Biotech Center was told it had to cut 27% of its budget. That meant a cut of $4.6 million.
Norris Tolson is president and CEO of the Biotech Center. He says an example of programs they had to cut were the Summer Workshops for Educators, that trained 200 teachers a year.
“We were very reluctant to cut those programs, but the other thing the General Assembly did in the budget is that they put a requirement on us to have as much of our money as is possible focused on what they call job creation and wealth creation," said Tolson.
Today the Biotech Center cut about ten percent of its staff. Tolson expects another reduction in staff, by veteran employees who make take a buy-out.
"It meant that we had to sort of go back to the drawing board and evaluate all of our programs and decide where could we cut and do the least damage to the long term program for Life Sciences in North Carolina," said Tolson.
The Biotechnology Center is almost fully-funded by the state. Its state appropriation was cut from $17.2 million to $12.6 million.
Meanwhile, North Carolina's biotechnology industry is said to be the fastest growing in the country. Studies show there are approximately 540 biotechnology companies across the state, employing 58,000 people.