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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 4, 2011

BIOTECH FIRMS TO OFFER MANAGEMENT TRAINING,
HELP BOOST INDUSTRY
Mini-MBA program will be run by Westchester Community College


Two Westchester biotech firms will soon be offering a “mini-MBA” program as part of a regional initiative expected to help employees develop business management skills and give the entire industry a boost throughout the Hudson Valley.

The Westchester/Putnam Workforce Investment Board recently approved $60,000 to allow two local biotech companies to access the funding: Aureon Biosciences, Inc. of Yonkers and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals of Tarrytown. An additional program for middle managers will include Progenics Pharmaceuticals. The program, which will be held at the Gateway Center at Westchester Community College, is a unique partnership between a public agency and private industry with each party picking up 50% of the cost.

“Success in business is often the result of putting the right combinations together,” said County Executive Robert P. Astorino. “This program is an innovative way to give our biotech firms access to business skills. The two together can help accelerate our economic growth.”

Larry Gottlieb, the county’s economic development director, said the new biotech education program is a key element of the NY BioHud Valley initiative, a public-private partnership with the Hudson Valley Economic Development Corporation that markets the Hudson Valley as the center of New York’s growing biotech industry. The Hudson Valley’s seven counties — Westchester, Rockland, Orange, Dutchess, Putnam, Ulster and Sullivan — are home to more than 80 biotech companies, medical centers, laboratories and academic research organizations. Thirty of those are located in Westchester County.

“The biotech sector is already one of our biggest growth markets and we want to see it expand even further,” Gottlieb said. “We’ve got the largest concentration of biotechnology employees in the state and I’m convinced that tapping into that management potential and further polishing those skills will only move us further ahead in creating the nation’s preeminent biotech cluster.”

Harry Horowitz, director of Westchester Community College's Professional Development Center that will administer the program, said that bringing scientific and management expertise together is a formula for success.

“We view this program as a game changer for our biotech firms,” he said. “Giving these scientists the business skills that they need to migrate to management positions will ensure the success of their enterprises.”

For the first session, internationally recognized trainer and consultant David Buckner, in cooperation with the Professional Development Center, will deliver the Ivy League-level program to more than 15 professionals from Aureon Biosciences. The program is a non-credit intensive three-day workshop that covers strategy, marketing and corporate financial literacy.

Dr. Charles J. DiComo, Aureon Biosciences’ corporate compliance officer, expressed his gratitude on behalf of the biotech sector.

“In the lower Hudson Valley, we are a rapidly growing industry that requires personnel with the right business acumen,” he said. “The Workforce Investment Board has assisted us by locating, co-funding and endorsing a low cost solution in a mini-MBA program that will facilitate Aureon’s scientific-minded teams to become more proficient in other aspects of business management.”

Buckner, president of Bottom Line Consulting, said he was very excited to be working on the BioHud Valley initiative.

“It's clear to me from the meetings that I've had with the representatives of the biotech firms as well as the members of the economic development team that there is a genuine commitment to adding real value,” he said. “This could serve as the model for private/public partnership for the rest of the nation."
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