The University of Miami has opened its new Life Science and Technology Park, which is expected to bring South Florida into the biotech industry and create jobs.
University of Miami President Donna Shalala, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and others were present at a dedication ceremony for the new facility on Northwest Seventh Avenue in Tuesday morning.
The park's research labs are expected to produce lifesaving scientific breakthroughs.
"This is more than a building, more than a first building. This is a place where education, research and technology intersect with discovery and innovation," Shalala said.
Researchers at the park are working to improve and save lives. On Tuesday, one technician was processing tissue grafts.
"There's a lot of medical needs. A lot of the tissue is not just used for walking, but it's also used for spinal surgery, for mandible reconstruction, oral maxillofacial purposes. All types of surgery need some type of allograft," said Edgar Maldonado, of the UM Tissue Bank.
The building opened this week is one of five planned buildings in the park. The first phase alone is expected to employ more than 1,000 people.
"This park puts Miami-Dade County on the map. It gives us a firm foothold in the growing biotech industry, as it creates the long-term potential to fuel a thriving biotech industry in Miami-Dade County, bringing needed diversity to our local economy and creating new jobs," said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez.
The development was paid for not by taxpayers but by the developer, Wexler. It did get $60 million in federal stimulus money in the form of a loan that will be paid back.
A group of protesters from Overtown was present during the dedication ceremony. They think UM has ignored the residents of Overtown.
UM officials said they have worked to reach out and put Overtown residents to work there.