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Manchester receives a $44 million grant for the manufacturing of organs, cells, and tissue

Gaby Lozada

Manchester officials say they will rely on a nonprofit to oversee the $44 million in new federal funding heading to the region to support the expansion of local biofabrication jobs.

The funding comes from a Build Back Better Grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, a COVID-19 pandemic recovery initiative. Manchester’s BioFabrication Cluster is one of 21 projects, out of 500 applicants, selected to receive this funding nationwide. It’s a collaboration between the City of Manchester and other local educational and economic institutions.

The goal of the project is to develop new ways to create cells, tissues, and organs that can be used in medical settings. Eventually, the partners behind the project hope to provide these biological materials to facilities across the East Coast. The project’s backers hope to put the region at the forefront of an industry that could save lives while creating thousands of jobs.

Jodie Nazaka, Manchester’s director of economic development, said this is an opportunity to bring “higher technology, higher paying and really high-quality jobs to the residents.”

“I think the narrative now is you have to go to New York, Boston, or California to get involved in any of these technology types of jobs,” Nazaka said. “But now we can create these types of school programs for our residents.”

Nazaka said a nonprofit, the NextGen Manchester Resiliency Council, has been established to help administer the grant funds and oversee the partnerships in the coalition, acting as a governing body overseeing the project. Records filed with the New Hampshire Secretary of State show the nonprofit’s incorporators include Nazaka and other officials connected to this project, including inventor and businessman Dean Kamen, who has been working to expand this kind of technology in Manchester in recent years.

Eventually, city officials hope the project will create 7,000 jobs directly related to its work, plus an additional 30,000 indirectly related to this growing industry. Additionally, the project will provide resources and space to emerging startups.

Nazaka said the city will allocate a special budget for training and a logistics network that can help to transport these manufactured human organs and tissues. She said many human organs end up getting discarded because they are either lost in transit or do not reach the patient in time.

The partners working on this project plan to collaborate with a third party called Beta Technologies to help make quicker transportation options a reality. Nazaka said this could include using technology resembling drones to transport materials across the region.

The project also includes plans for a Work and Learn program that Nazaka views as the most impactful outcome of this grant opportunity. The funding will support education and skills training activities through community-based nonprofits, focusing on working with underserved populations — including people of color, women, low-income workers, immigrants, and refugees.

“That's how we will make sure that the jobs that are being created remove barriers and provide pathways to good paying jobs to local workers,” Nazaka said.

A renovated building in the Millyard has been chosen to anchor the manufacturing activities. Nazaka and others involved in the project hope that it will help to revitalize the area and spur more housing development.

Gabriela Lozada is a Report for America corps member. Her focus is on Latinx community with original reporting done in Spanish for ¿Qué hay de Nuevo NH?.

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