Tuesday, February 12, 2008

California Governor Says Invitrogen and Biotech Leading The Way


California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was out plumping for the biotech industry this week during a visit to Invitrogen, a stem cell firm located near San Diego.

The firm was Arnold's poster child Monday for growth in a time of increasing talk about recession and lack of jobs. Invitrogen has added 200 new employees to its staff of 4,300 at a time when economists worry about rising unemployment in the Golden State

In some ways, the Schwarzenegger appearance is the flip side of the piece on Monday in the Boston Globe that offered a more jaundiced view of stem cell economic activity in California.

The governor cited the $3 billion stem cell agency and its three-year-old grant program, the largest research effort for human embryonic stem cell research in the world.
"The rest of the world is somewhat jealous," he said.
Schwarzenegger added, "It's all about job creation."
His office mounted an impressive array of biotech industry statistics on the governor's web site, along with a video of a portion of his Invitrogen visit.

Missing, however, from the statistics is an important figure: the size of the California workforce, 18.4 million persons. Adding a relative handful of jobs here and here is going to do little to ease immediately the problems of a lack of economic growth. Even the total biotech workforce – 235,000 – is relatively small potatoes. That said, building economic growth is a brick-by-brick endeavor. No magic solutions exist. But hyping the stem or biotech industry can backfire, as CIRM well knows. California's stem cell agency is still feeling the blowback from the excessive rhetoric of the Prop. 71 campaign.

The governor is a powerful media draw. He noted that six cameras filmed his visit, although he attributed that to interest in Invitrogen and stem cell research. Reporter Terri Somers of the San Diego Union-Tribune was also there. You can read her report here.

Readers from overseas and out-of-state may well learn something from watching the Arnold video. It conveys some of the enthusiasm, energy and commitment to California's stem cell research effort. Sphere: Related Content

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