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With 56 Percent Budget Cut Looming, Michigan Life Sciences Corridor Seeks Foreign Investment

NEW YORK, March 24 - The Michigan Life Sciences Corridor has seen funding recede rapidly from its shores amid the state government's fiscal crisis, but organization officials say they will proceed with a planned conference April 8.


The corridor, a 20-year initiative launched in 1999 to boost the state's life sciences industry using $1 billion in tobacco settlement money, had its 2003 funding cut from $45 million to $37.5 million under an executive order signed by Governor Jennifer Granholm March 3. Then, three days later, the governor announced that the corridor's funding would be slashed further, to $20 million in the proposed 2004 budget -- a 56 percent reduction from its original 2003 funding level.


"Our life sciences corridor has taken a hit in the budget cuts," said a corridor spokesperson, Jennifer Owens. "But it is our hope that when things pick up, [the funding] will be restored. We hope this is a minor setback."


The corridor is meanwhile putting its hopes in private funding, from the USand abroad.  JETRO, the Japan External Trade Organization, and Eurasanté, a French development organization, are co-sponsoring the April 8 Life Sciences Corridor conference.  JETRO has $400 million to invest in Midwestern US life sciences work, according to the corridor's website.


Despite her role in cutting spending for the corridor, Gov. Granholm is still slated as the opening speaker at the one-day life sciences corridor conference, to be held at the Novi Hilton in Novi, Michigan-- 25 miles away from Detroitand Ann Arbor. The conference will focus on collaborations, funding, and life sciences advances in Michigan, according to its program.