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Legislative Best Practices in Support of Bioscience Economic Development

June 16, 2015
Despite a difficult economic environment the past couple years, states across the country have found that a number of factors are key to attracting new bioscience industry and helping current bioscience companies thrive in their states. In particular, state initiatives that focus on capital formation, workforce development and a supportive business environment have been key to the success of states that want to grow their bioscience industry

In a session titled “Legislative Best Practices in Support of Bioscience Economic Development” moderated by Frederick Bittenbender, executive vice president, public affairs, at BIO, panelists  discussed how states have been able to grow  high-paying jobs during the past couple years despite a difficult economic environment. Other panelists included:

  • Dennis Daugaard, governor, South Dakota.

  • Jack Markell, governor, Delaware

  • Peter Pellerito, senior policy consultant, former interim vice president for state government relations and alliance development, BIO.

  • James Greenwood, president and CEO, BIO.


The governors of Delaware and South Dakota discussed the importance of innovation in reinvigorating their states’ economies and attracting jobs to their states. The average bioscience job paid an annual salary of more than $88,000, according to the Battelle/BIO State Bioscience Jobs, Investments and Innovation 2014 report.

“We love this industry,” said Delaware Governor Jack Markell. “When you find an industry that saves people’s lives, improves the quality of their lives and creates great jobs, that’s a great, great win.”

South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard said his state’s success in attracting and retaining bioscience companies include low operating costs, a favorable tax environment, strong bioscience education and a “nimble” attitude toward handling regulatory decisions.

A biennial report by BIO on economic development initiatives created in 2013 and 2014 included the following findings.

  • 16 states offering matching grants for phase 1 and 2 Small Business Innovation grants.

  • 25 states offering tax credits to angel investors who invest in technology companies, including bioscience firms.

  • 36 states offering sales tax exemptions on equipment for both research and development and manufacturing.

  • 21 states investing state dollars in private venture-capital firms that fund small and emerging bioscience companies.

  • 39 states offering R&D tax credits for early state research vital to moving research into commercialization.


“We’re now focused on looking at areas where we can make a specific funding target and working with industry to move our companies’ research platforms forward,” said Peter Pellerito, senior policy consultant and former interim vice president for state government for BIO. “Smaller metropolitan areas are gaining ground. They are better understanding the industry and putting in partnerships that are really making a difference.”