March 28, 2021
Temple Daily Telegram | Shane Monaco
Nine months after commissioning a report, Temple now has a list of possible ways to expand the bioscience industry in the city.
The Temple Health and Bioscience District board of directors adopted a report by Newmark Knight and Frank Consultants in a 6-0 vote Wednesday, with Michael Norman not attending. In addition to approving the report, which included an amendment to allow for changes at a later date, the board tabled the appointment of a committee to implement the report’s suggestions.
The report looked at the current actions of Temple and the Bioscience District, along with what other similar communities are doing, to create feedback and suggestions.
While the board accepted the document, they plan on holding a workshop within the next month to decide what suggestions they plan to move forward on.
“We as a board haven’t gotten the chance to digest (this report) together,” board member Jason Locklin said.
The report includes 72 different recommendations that both the Bioscience District and the community can take to open up more opportunities.
The consultants said in the report that for Temple to have success in recruiting biotech firms it “will require major, long-term investments in assets and workforce.”
Temple, the report showed, has between 20 and 8 percent of the key workers needed, offered few operating cost savings, lacked research and development funds and was not on the radar of site selectors for the industry.
While the area currently is lacking in some areas to attract biotech companies, the report said Temple’s proximity to Interstate 35 and Baylor Scott & White Medical Center-Temple, along with attractive vacant land, provides room to grow.
The consulting firm said this work would require a 20-year plan.
The report suggested the district broaden its scope moving forward and look for other ways to generate revenue so it can institute the changes needed.
Thomas Baird, board chairman for the district, said he wasn’t surprised by the number of recommendations in the report and was excited for the future.
Baird said that he had felt that there was more the district could be doing and with the suggestions made in the report now sees many new avenues. He said he knows developing a bioscience industry in a city can take decades, but hopes to see some significant change in his lifetime.
The district now needs to decide what parts of the report to work on, Baird said. As long as it helps the city, he is willing to move forward, he said.
“I am a bottom-line type of guy,” Baird said. “And if we can get the results to make our city a healthy city and a medical destination where there are more high-paying jobs, that is what I want to do.”