Worcester Poised to Take Advantage of Biomanufacturing

WORCESTER – Travis McCready, president and chief executive officer of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, said infrastructure and technology in the state’s “life sciences ecosystem” is, of course, a central tenet of the $1 billion public-private partnership he helms.

To that end, he said, the city is well-placed to take advantage of new trends in biotechnology, including a push toward biomanufacturing. But there are other factors to consider beyond just bringing in industry, Mr. McCready said, noting that developing a workforce that lives and works in and around the city is just as important.

Mr. McCready gave the keynote address at the 52nd annual business meeting of the Worcester Business Development Corp. Tuesday night on the lawn at CitySquare II Plaza.

Mr. McCready said that in his role, he often asks himself why the bulk of biotech investment remains centered around Kendall Square in Boston. He said he turned to the stratospheric success of the tech industry in Silicon Valley for some perspective. What he found, he said, was that the geography and demographics are not actually that far off. He said the bulk of what is known as Silicon Valley in California includes around 1.9 million people, and if the area is rotated a bit and overlaid on Massachusetts, it covers roughly the same area and population as the area between downtown Boston and Worcester.

Add in Worcester’s solid “anchor institutions” such as health care and higher education, and it appears that “pound for pound, this city is punching way above its weight,” Mr. McCready said.

He said the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center is looking forward to the future now that it’s coming to the end of its initial 10-year, $1 billion mission. He said in cities like Worcester, it’s important to add value to the life sciences ecosystem by creating opportunities for people already in the geographic area. Investing heavily in middle school, high school and higher education is a core tenet of that effort, and is already paying dividends in the city, with partnerships and programs at places such as Worcester Technical High School and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Also at the annual meeting, Craig L. Blais, president and CEO of the WBDC, unveiled the renaming of the partnership between the organization and Quinsigamond Community College at 20 Franklin St. as the Carberry Center, in honor of longtime QCC president Gail Carberry, who recently retired.

Leo Xarras and Mark Stebbins of XSS Hotels received the 2017 Robert S. Bowditch Economic Development Award. XSS Hotels’ latest project, the AC Marriott Hotel at CitySquare, loomed large in the background of Tuesday’s annual meeting. It is scheduled to open in winter 2018.

Bravo Auto Sales & Service Inc. received the 2017 SBA Highlight Award.