Across the country, COVID19 has negatively impacted commerce and economic development efforts.  Reshoring manufacturing to the United States, especially in the life science, pharmaceutical and medical device industries – has become crucial. Vaccine research, vaccine production, fill-finish, storage and logistics are the headlines on every news channel. The health crisis normalized remote/teleworking, and in doing so exposed gaps with technology infrastructure, redesigned collaboration efforts, and is re-defining office culture.  Yet, the need for life science for wet lab and data space (labs that include specialized infrastructure for ventilation, humidity control, cold storage, data, chemical storage and materials handling), has become more critical than ever. The recognition that life sciences are critical to the health and safety of our communities has never been more apparent than now.

Some states are taking steps to address lab space needs, recognizing that making this specialized space more accessible – they will facilitate research, collaboration and innovation for the identification, diagnosis and treatment of diseases.  Such efforts have a multiplier effect on commerce and economic development efforts.  Tuesday, December 2, 2020, Illinois Governor Pritzker announced an initiative to assist life science startups, incubators, university researchers, corporations, and early-stage companies, gain access to 21st century lab space.  Illinois’ $9M grant program addresses one of the most critical components for startup life science firms – laboratory space. The labs must be located within a multi-tenant space – NOT an on-site, owner-occupied space. Additionally, the wet lab capital project must meet several requirements: fill a gap in a region; implement partnerships with universities, medical centers, and incubators; present a plan to recruit from underserved areas; and commit to working with minority businesses.

These performance based programs are especially meaningful and effective…and demonstrates collaborative efforts with state and local government as well as community stakeholders.  What programs have you seen or have found meaningful?