The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated a national health security vulnerability from heavy reliance on international manufacturing of critical pharmaceuticals and medical supplies.
The Biden Administration has named Virginia’s Advanced Pharmaceutical Manufacturing (APM) Cluster as one of 21 winners of the $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge, the most impactful regional economic development competition in decades. Funded by the American Rescue Plan and administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), the Regional Challenge is awarding approximately $52.9 million in grants to the Advanced Pharmaceutical Manufacturing (APM) Cluster, led by the Virginia Biotechnology Research Partnership Authority (Activation Capital), to boost Virginia’s pharmaceutical industry.
With $52.9 million in funding from EDA, the Advanced Pharmaceutical Manufacturing (APM) Cluster will expand the domestic supply chain for essential medicines and critical active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs). The projects funded as part of this award include expanding a nascent pharmaceutical manufacturing corridor in Central Virginia through investment in new wet lab space, development of critical infrastructure to sustain industrial capacity in Petersburg, and engagement with local business to enhance the regional pharmaceutical supply chain. The project will also catalyze a new partnership between Virginia Commonwealth University and Virginia State University to create new pathways for underserved residents to high-quality training and jobs in the pharmaceutical industry.
“The Build Back Better Regional Challenge will invest in a critical industry that was impacted by the pandemic’s supply chain disruptions, create a much-needed pipeline to recruit and train workers, and ensure underserved communities and workers benefit,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “The Advanced Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Cluster will generate a major boost to an emerging, regional industry of critical importance to American global competitiveness.”
The Advanced Pharmaceutical Manufacturing (APM) Cluster is one of 21 winners – each a regional coalition of partnering entities – that will receive awards between $25 million and $65 million to implement an average of six integrative projects that will enable each region’s economic transformation and competitiveness.
The Build Back Better Regional Challenge (BBBRC) is an unprecedented competitive federal grant program that provides each regional coalition with significant investments to tackle a wide variety of projects – including entrepreneurial support, workforce development, infrastructure, and innovation – to drive inclusive economic growth. Each coalition’s collection of projects aims to develop and strengthen regional industry clusters – all while embracing economic equity, creating good-paying jobs, and enhancing U.S. competitiveness globally. Projects span 24 states and include $87 million to two primarily Tribal coalitions and over $150 million for projects serving communities impacted by the declining use of coal.
The 21 BBBRC awardees were chosen from 60 EDA-designated finalists that each received approximately $500,000 in funding and technical assistance to continue developing their cluster strategies. The funding for each coalition is approximate, with awards to be signed later in September. Those 60 finalists were chosen from a Phase 1 applicant pool of 529 applications, which exemplifies the tremendous demand for transformational economic development approaches. EDA will continue to support all 60 finalists with the creation of a Community of Practice that will provide technical support, foster connectedness with peer regions and build capacity.
EDA was allocated $3 billion in supplemental funding under the American Rescue Plan to assist communities nationwide in their efforts to build back better by accelerating economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and building local economies that will be resilient to future economic shocks. As a part of this funding, EDA allocated $300 million through a Coal Communities Commitment to support coal communities in pandemic recovery and help them create new jobs and opportunities, including through the creation or expansion of a new industry sector. Specifically, EDA has dedicated $100 million of its Build Back Better Regional Challenge funds and $200 million of its Economic Adjustment Assistance funds to directly support coal communities.