The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity recently approved the expansion of a state enterprise zone, designed to stimulate economic growth and community revitalization at the local level, to include North Chicago, IL-based Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science.
Economic incentives offered to operating companies within the Waukegan-North Chicago Enterprise Zone will help the university attract investment in its new Innovation and Research Park, now under construction, and in turn create jobs for its local community and region.
"The research park will help our university move its science and intellectual property out of the lab and into the marketplace to improve human health, including the health of our local populations burdened with significant health disparities," said RFU President and CEO Dr. K. Michael Welch. "It will also improve the health of our local and regional economy and bring opportunities to nearby low-income neighborhoods that are struggling to recover from the loss of industry and decades of economic decline."
Nonprofit Lake County Partners estimates that the four-story building, which could be part of a multiphase development, will create an estimated 500 direct and related jobs and a total economic regional impact of $117 million per year.
The expansion is rooted in a public-private partnership that in addition to Rosalind Franklin University includes the City of North Chicago, Lake County, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and developer not-for-profit TUFF, which worked with Gateway Development to complete the $53 million financing for the project.
"It's an important project for the university and Lake County," said Lake County Board Chair Aaron Lawlor. "Investments in cutting-edge facilities like this help us build on the county's strength in the life sciences and provide greater opportunities for collaboration, innovation and economic development."
"Working together, we're placing the science park on solid financial footing so that it can benefit RFU, its local communities and region for generations to come," said RFU Executive Vice President of Research Ronald Kaplan. "We feel particularly driven to study diseases that affect our local population, including cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer's. We can't move our science forward and leave our community behind."
Strong support from local, state and federal elected officials and industry leaders has helped fuel the project. North Chicago Mayor Leon Rockingham Jr. said the city and RFU maintain a productive partnership.
"Our support for the expansion of our enterprise zone demonstrates our commitment to the university, its scientific research and the economic growth and development of our community," Rockingham said.
The new building, to be completed by summer 2019, will feature state-of-the-art laboratories meeting and office space for faculty and commercial startups and national and international biotech and healthcare firms. It will include the Brain Science Institute and its three disease-focused research centers, in addition to three centers dedicated to genetic diseases, cancer cell biology and proteomics and molecular therapeutics. Industry collaborators will work in dedicated space on each floor of the building.
Chicago-based brokerage firm Cushman & Wakefield will work to attract international and national bioscience companies to co-locate in the new science park, which the university envisions as the hub for the bio-startup ecosystem in Lake County, home to the largest concentration of bioscience companies in the Midwest.
"The life sciences are a core part of our history and our economy," said Kevin Considine, Lake County Partners president and CEO. "Pharmaceuticals, medical products, technology and health care are in Lake County's DNA and we're ready to assist businesses in these industries through our strong network of stakeholders, which includes Rosalind Franklin University.
About Rosalind Franklin University
Formed in 1912 as the Chicago Hospital-College of Medicine, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science is a national leader in interprofessional medical and healthcare education and biomedical research. RFU includes the Chicago Medical School, School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, College of Health Professions, Dr. William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine and College of Pharmacy. More than 18,000 RFU degreed alumni are active throughout the United States and around the world. Learn more at rosalindfranklin.edu.