Nixon: Give tens of millions of tax dollars to biotech

Wednesday, December 16, 2009 | 10:36 a.m. CST

OSAGE BEACH — Gov. Jay Nixon embraced a proposal Tuesday to direct tens of millions of tax dollars to Missouri's biotechnology industry to keep pace with other states competing for the high-tech jobs.

The plan would divert an annual portion of the new tax revenues generated by biotechnology companies to a special state fund, from which incentives could be doled out to new or expanding entrepreneurs in the same field.

Kansas adopted a similar incentive model five years ago to lure agricultural and biological firms and researchers. The Kansas Bioscience Authority estimates its funding will top $580 million over 15 years. And the state recently won an intense competition for a new $450 million national biodefense laboratory.

Missouri already is home to some top university and private-sector researchers in the life sciences. But economic development officials say Missouri is lagging when it comes to converting that research into commercial ventures.

Nixon used a life sciences summit of the Missouri Biotechnology Association to announce his support for legislation creating a biotechnology incentive fund. Some Republican legislative leaders also are backing the plan.

"We need a new science and technology revolution in the Show-Me State," Nixon told about 120 academic, corporate and economic development representatives at the Lake of the Ozarks conference. "With this funding source behind it, it's my belief we can get to it."

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