On a hilltop in Farmington, battered by wind Monday afternoon, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy glanced back at Hartford and years of inertia at the University of Connecticut Health Center, then forward at a groundbreaking ceremony for the Bioscience Connecticut project.
“Look at Hartford, not far away, and realize not too long ago we were having a discussion about simply replacing beds… and out of that in an amazingly short period of time we went from simply replacing beds to creating jobs – over 16,000 jobs expected to be created between now and 2037,” Malloy said.
Less than a year after seeing his Bioscience Connecticut plan signed into law, Malloy was celebrating the ceremonial groundbreaking on the project, designed to turn the struggling health center into an economic engine, adding jobs, attracting top research talent and placing Connecticut at the center of personalized medicine.
“What we’re doing here today is more than simply breaking ground on a series of buildings,” Malloy said. “What we’re doing is inviting the finest scientists in the world to come to Connecticut, the finest teachers in the world to come to Connecticut, the finest medical and dental students in larger numbers to come and stay in Connecticut… what we’ve really been doing for the past 17 months is preparing a new road for a new future, where our state competes with others in every way and wins in every way — that’s what we’re doing here today."
The plan, estimated to cost the state $864 million, will fund construction of a new patient tower, a parking garage and an outpatient center and renovate the existing facility at the health center in Farmington, as well as fund small business incubator space for startups.
But the project doesn’t just rehabilitate the aging hospital, local legislators said.
“In addition to jobs the project is bringing, the other piece is the partnership between Jackson Labs, UConn and Yale. We’re looking to create a research triangle like they have in North Carolina for personalized medicine,” state Rep. Brian Becker said. "That science is so exciting... they're now able to test and find out the treatment and dosage appropriate for each individual."
Just a few months after Bioscience Connecticut legislation was signed, genetic research institute Jackson Laboratory announced it would settle in Farmington, creating an estimated 600 research jobs and 6,000 spinoff jobs.
House Speaker Chris Donovan, among other legislators, cheered the governor’s vision in leading the state into Bioscience Connecticut.
“The ink hadn’t even dried on the first [piece of legislation] when he came to us and introduced Jackson Labs,” Donovan said. “He had a vision of what we could do here in Connecticut… and we’re going to have jobs, research and advances in science like never before.”
Herbst introduced Malloy, calling him the man with the “vision for targeted investment for positive economic growth… and the architect of Bioscience Connecticut.”
Malloy, in turn, thanked the legislators for their support of the project and a representative of Jackson Labs thanked the Connecticut for a warm welcome to the state.
Former UConn leader Cato Laurencin, couldn’t be at the ceremony but sent his congratulations for the plan, which he said would “transform the University of Connecticut Health Center ...and meet critical health needs.”