ACC Message from School President Dr. Algie Gatewood

In Alamance County, like most of our state, nation, and world, the COVID-19 pandemic is in the forefront of our thinking, which heightens our awareness of science, technology, and innovation. More specifically, it has given rise to a huge acceleration of work in the biological and life sciences, and biotechnology is at the heart of much of this. The virus has challenged all of us, and will continue to do so.

In Alamance County, like most of our state, nation, and world, the COVID-19 pandemic is in the forefront of our thinking, which heightens our awareness of science, technology, and innovation. More specifically, it has given rise to a huge acceleration of work in the biological and life sciences, and biotechnology is at the heart of much of this. The virus has challenged all of us, and will continue to do so.

Alamance County is in a unique place when it comes to biotechnology and biological science. This county has within it the headquarters of one of the largest medical testing companies in the world, LabCorp. Additionally, Alamance Community College is progressing expeditiously in developing a world-class Biotechnology Center of Excellence. These two entities, along with several other biotechnology companies located in Alamance County and around the area, are some key ingredients in this region’s, and in North Carolina’s, growth and acceleration in science, technology, and innovation.

We are essentially equidistant to two of the largest biotechnology regions in the state, the Triad and the Triangle. ACC’s investment in and expansion of its Biotechnology Center of Excellence will effectively be the link to boast North Carolina as having one of the largest biotech regions in the southeastern US.

Needless to say, ACC’s investment could not have been more timely. Building upon years of providing education and training in biotechnology, the College is becoming more and more prominent in undergirding the specialized workforce needed to support the ever-expanding demand for skilled workers.

The close to 1,000 graduates ACC has already introduced to employers such as LabCorp, Anderson Products, BD Diagnostics, Cone Health, Pfizer, KBI BioPharma, Merck, GSK, Duke, UNC, Syngenta, FlexCell International, and Wake Forest, and even to companies in faraway places like Denmark and South Korea, will pale in comparison to what we will be able to achieve upon the completion of a brand new $17.6 million, 33,000 square foot Biotechnology Center of Excellence building. The building will be highly visible to one of the busiest interstate corridors in the state, Interstates 85/40, and will serve as a beacon to our future in biotechnology and life sciences.

In addition to Biotechnology, the new building will house programs such as Histotechnology and AgBio, as well as state-of-the-art Biology laboratories and dedicated incubator space. It will allow for the expansion of our Medical Laboratory Technology program. Moreover, the third floor is an ideal space for further expansion, which could include options such as simulated clinical space or the biopharmaceutical manufacturing of vaccines and tablets. This is a great opportunity for partnerships with private companies. Our door is open.

With the expansion and enhancement of biotechnology and life sciences programs, Alamance Community College embraces and supports the growth and development of business and industry, especially as economic development is a crucial role of ACC. By the year 2025, the economic impact of the biosciences in North Carolina is projected to top $100 billion. North Carolina is #3 in the nation in biosciences, and there are more than 650 life sciences companies in our state, employing more than 66,000 people.

North Carolina is positioned to have a great future in science, technology, and innovation, but developing a pipeline of well-trained, skilled workers is paramount to making that future a reality.

Dr. Algie Gatewood is President of Alamance Community College, and a member of the North Carolina Board of Science Technology and Innovation and the American Association of Community Colleges Workforce and Economic Development Commission. For more information about the Biotechnology Center of Excellence and Alamance Community College, Dr. Gatewood can be reached at 336-506-4150 or algie.gatewood@alamancecc.edu.