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$2 Million Grant Expected to Fuel Workforce Education, Equity Hub Led by Missouri Biosciences Partner BioNexus KC

The Kansas City region needs to scale up to meet demand from the expanding life sciences industry and support underserved job seekers, Dennis Ridenour said, announcing $2 million in federal funds aimed at increasing the readiness to fill the talent shortage.

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 plans to involve the Full Employment Council of Kansas City and the Metropolitan Community College.

“Our success in human and animal health has been built on decades of regional collaboration and partnerships in Kansas City,” he continued. “The BIOTECH for MO initiative will invest equally 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 State Tax Recovery Funds authorized under the American Rescue Plan Act, the stimulus package from President Biden’s $1.9 trillion, approved by Congress in March 2021 along party lines.

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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 addressing talent shortages, the Workforce Hub is set to sponsor employees impacted by the pandemic by equipping them with the skills and training needed 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 meet their region’s talent needs for life science manufacturers. Now, with support from 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 who want to upskill or change careers,” said Ridenour . “This program would be available to students and professionals across the region, with access to a virtual program through STLCC’s offering.”

BioNexus KC

BioNexus KC drives collaboration, accelerates emerging technology from concept to reality, and creates opportunities at the nexus of:

  • Human and animal health
  • Urban and rural health
  • University and industry
  • Kansas and Missouri

MCC is expected to hire a program director to help tailor the curriculum for the KC region and also renovate space in 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 strengthen our community.”

The Full Employment Council, a non-profit organization dedicated to connecting Kansas City residents to ladders of economic opportunity through job placement and job training, will recruit individuals into the training program and provide encompassing services, such as support services for transportation if needed.

“The support system enabled through this partnership will facilitate career achievement and is an excellent way for Kansas City to ‘Grow Its Workforce’ by 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 supporting the tremendous growth we are experiencing and further anticipate.”

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