Biotech firm leans toward Gavilan

Plans to turn an industrial section of Gilroy into a biotech
cluster are moving along, thanks to a cooperative effort between
Gavilan College and the city’s economic development group.
Plans to turn an industrial section of Gilroy into a biotech cluster are moving along, thanks to a cooperative effort between Gavilan College and the city’s economic development group.

Commercial property owners in the Southpoint Business Park, east of U.S. 101 near the Gilroy Premium Outlets, have agreed to construct biotech facilities, and an agency charged with developing bioscience in San Jose is prepared to refer interested companies south, according to Rich Gillis of the Gavilan College Small Business Development Center.

Meanwhile, Gavilan and the city’s economic development group have helped an unnamed Canadian biotech firm develop a business and financial plan for operating in Gilroy. The company is now waiting for bank loan approval, which could come in less than a month, said Bill Lindsteadt of the Gilroy Economic Development Corporation.

“It does us no good to create educational opportunities if there are no jobs here later,” Gillis told Gavilan College trustees Tuesday night during an annual report at the school’s regular board meeting.

Biotechnology, or transgenics, is a high-tech science that improves organisms by transferring or manipulating genetic information. It has wide-ranging applications from making crops grow healthier to making pharmaceuticals work better.

Gavilan and the economic agencies have been trying for months to land businesses that will make up a so-called biotech incubator. Incubators consist of several businesses in the same field working together to fuel expansion of their particular industry.

The college and the economic development groups would support the incubator by, among other means, supplying consultants and training a work force. The effort is being funded by a nearly $900,000, five-year grant from California. The grant requires Gavilan to act as the headquarters for applied biotechnology in a region that spans from Monterey to the Nevada border.

Training a work force could begin at the middle and high school levels and expand in the Gavilan College curriculum and via internships at the businesses.

In the annual report, Gillis also noted his agency has changed its name to the Gavilan College Economic Development Center. The renaming, Gillis said, better summarizes what the group does.

“The Small Business Development Center is one of our components, and it’s the driving force behind our group, but it’s not the only thing we do,” Gillis said.

In other business Tuesday, newly elected Gavilan trustees took their seats and named Laura Perry the board president, taking over for Leonard Washington who still sits on the board but has finished his two years as president.

Perry and Elvira Robinson were re-elected Nov. 5. Newly elected James De La Cruz is the group’s only first-timer.

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