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Column: Kannapolis is getting attention

By Clay Andrews
For the Kannapolis Citizen
Dr. Sheetha Ghelani from the North Carolina Research Campus and I recently attended the Biotechnology Industry Organization ó or BIO for short ó show in San Diego, Calif. The BIO International Convention is the world’s largest annual event for the biotechnology industry. The 2008 Convention ran Tuesday, June 17, through Friday, June 21.
The convention featured the largest gathering of biotech exhibitors in history, with more than 2,100 companies, and more than 208,000 square feet of exhibition space, the largest ever at the convention. The exhibition included pavilions and attendance from more than 70 countries and 48 states representing every aspect of the biotechnology industry ó including North Carolina and Kannapolis.
The all-star keynote lineup included Gen. Colin L. Powell, Gov. Arnold Schwarz-enegger (R-Calif.) and J. Craig Venter, PhD.
In addition, Gov. Deval Patrick (D-Mass.) and former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-Fla.) discussed healthcare in an election year with moderator Neil Cavuto, anchor and managing editor of the Fox News Channel.
Many high-profile VIPs attended the convention with 10 governors and numerous international public officials, including the Hon. Lino Baranao, minister of science, technology and production innovation, Argentina; the Hon. Kim Carr, minister for innovation, industry, science and research, Australia; the Hon. Dr. Ewa Bjorling, minister for trade, Sweden; and His Excellency Suwit Khunkitti, deputy prime minister and minister of industry, Thailand, among many others.
I have attended this event for the past three years and watched it grow as the North Carolina Research Campus is going up. I can now assure you that from the momentum that is building with each brick laid at NCRC, Kannapolis is destined to become synonymous with science … a name to be spoken reverently as such names as San Francisco, Boston, Singapore and RTP are used now to represent the knowledge centers of the science world.
Many who approached us at the convention already know something about “the project in Kannapolis.”
Others were attracted to North Carolina’s already considerable cachet generated by the Research Triangle Park in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area (which has now been around for 50 years). They are interested in locating a business to an appropriate site in a state already able to provide the workforce and unique business climate in which such companies thrive.
As time passes, Kannapolis is becoming more and more that appropriate place.
The 311,000-square-foot David H. Murdock Core Laboratory building will open this fall to tremendous fanfare. It will feature scientific equipment that is the best that money can buy and that no other place has. But the main ingredient that will determine the ultimate success of NCRC is the workforce that will tackle the scientific issues on a daily basis.
Think there is no place in this picture for you? Think again.
Two-thirds of the 5,000 jobs expected to be created directly on the campus require a two-year degree. This means if you start now by enrolling in laboratory training classes at Rowan- Cabarrus Community College, you could be a participant in this bonanza.
An impact study done by Market Street Services in Atlanta, Ga., estimates there will be nearly 40,000 jobs created because of NCRC. Given the realities of the brick and mortar that are now in place on the campus, and that we have watched these amazing structures go up where just a few years ago stood the largest towel manufacturing plant in the world, the real question is, what are you waiting for? Your date with destiny awaits.

Clay Andrews, a business recruiter who works for the Cabarrus Economic Development Corp., is charged with discovering companies interested in moving to a new location and bringing them to Cabarrus County.

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