The Kansas City region must level up to meet the demand of the expanding life sciences industry and support underserved job seekers, said Dennis Ridenour, announcing a $2 million in federal funds aimed at boosting readiness to fill talent shortages.
The funding award will establish the “Bioscience Industry Occupational Training and Equity Collaborative Hub for Missouri” or BIOTECH for MO, said Ridenour, president and CEO of BioNexus KC. The local effort is set to involve the Full Employment Council of Kansas City and Metropolitan Community College.
“Our success in human and animal health has been built on decades of regional collaboration and partnership in Kansas City,” he continued. “The BIOTECH for MO initiative will equitably invest in preparing Missouri’s current and future workforce to play a key role in bringing important medicines and therapies to patients around the world.”
The $2 million workforce training grant, administered by the Missouri Department of Economic Development, is made possible through Missouri’s State Fiscal Recovery Funds authorized by the American Rescue Plan Act, President Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package, which passed Congress in March 2021 along party lines.
American Rescue Plan funds
U.S. Reps. Cori Bush and Emanuel Cleaver, D-Missouri, and U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids, D-Kansas, a member of the House Small Business Committee, supported and voted for the American Rescue Plan. All Republican members of both the Missouri and Kansas Congressional delegations in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate voted against the $1.9 trillion stimulus package.
RELATED: Missouri receives $95M from federal initiative to boost startup, small business growth
RELATED: How $69M in federal funds is already boosting Kansas entrepreneurs
BioNexus KC, which is a catalyst for innovation in human and animal health; BioSTL; and the Missouri Biotechnology Association, are expected to lead the BIOTECH for MO effort. In addition to solving talent shortfalls, the workforce hub is set to sponsor employees affected by the pandemic by giving them the skills and training required to fill critical bioscience occupations.
In 2022, BioSTL and St. Louis Community College worked closely with ThermoFisher to develop an industry-informed training program to help fill their region’s talent needs for life sciences manufacturers. Now, with the support of the Missouri Department of Economic Development, BioNexus KC will oversee the development of a similar program for employers in the KC region, Ridenour said.
Employer partners include Thermo Fisher Scientific, Ceva Animal Health, TriRX, Ronawk, KCAS, and MilliporeSigma.
“We are leveraging our partnerships in St. Louis to rapidly develop an industry-informed program at Metropolitan Community College and will work with the Full Employment Council of Kansas City to recruit individuals looking to either upskill or make a career change,” Ridenour said. “This program would be available for students and professionals across the region, with access to a virtual program through the offering at STLCC.”
BioNexus KC stimulates collaboration, accelerates emerging technology from concept to reality, and creates opportunities at the nexus of:
- Human and animal health
- Urban and rural health
- Academia and industry
- Kansas and Missouri
MCC is expected to hire a program director to help customize the curriculum for the KC region and will also renovate space at the Health Sciences Building at the Penn Valley Campus to create the lab space needed for the training program.
“MCC will offer access to lab space for hands-on training,” said Tyjaun A. Lee, president of MCC – Penn Valley, “This partnership with BioNexus KC and FECKC will help shape the future of the Kansas City workforce. Education is evolving, and I am confident this effort will bolster our community.”
The Full Employment Council, a nonprofit dedicated to connecting Kansas City residents to ladders of economic opportunity through job placement and skills training, will recruit individuals into the training program and provide wrap-around services, such as support services for transportation, as needed.
“The system of support enabled through this partnership will facilitate career achievement and is an excellent way for Kansas City to ‘Grow its Own Workforce’ through providing training and employment opportunities,” said Clyde McQueen, president and CEO of the Full Employment Council of Kansas City. “This program will help employ our community at all levels while sustaining the tremendous growth we are experiencing and further anticipate.”