Skills Gap

Laboratory technician Roger Avita pours a solution while working in the Manufacturing lab at Ultra Scientific Analytical, a company that develops water purification standards and testing, in North Kingstown, R.I., Wednesday afternoon, June 29, 2011. 

(The Center Square) – Gov. Dan McKee wants to bolster the state’s emerging bioscience sector and public health goals with a new state laboratory facility.

In a news release, the governor announced the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, working on behalf of the state, has sent out a request for proposals for land and development of a new lab facility for the state’s Department of Health.

“As we emerge from the current pandemic, it is so important that we make strategic investments in both the near-term recovery and the long-term economic and public health of the state,” McKee said in the release. “Rhode Island is among the leaders nationally in testing, vaccination rate, and a safe economic reopening. This effort would simultaneously advance our important public health goals and catalyze significant economic development opportunities.”

According to the release, the state’s current health lab faces infrastructure issues, in addition to poor life-safety systems, and a design that has been deemed unfit for a modern lab to conduct testing and research.

“The state was in need of a new laboratory building prior to the COVID-19 crisis and the pandemic has only emphasized the criticality of being prepared for increasingly complex threats to public health, including future pandemics that we know are inevitable,” said Rhode Island Department of Health Director Nicole Alexander-Scott, M.D., M.P.H. in the release. “A new health lab is needed to keep pace with emerging scientific technologies, deliver state-of-the art public health services and testing, and to better protect all Rhode Islanders.”

The request calls for companies to provide a site they own or control or to propose a new site in the I-95 Redevelopment District, or another publicly owned site.

The state is looking, according to the release, for an 80,000 square-foot space that must feature a minimum of 25,000 square-feet of additional space to house private bioscience companies.

There will be two rounds in the process with finalists emerging to a second round involving a competitive negotiation process.

The state is requesting receipt of proposals no later than 2 p.m. Dec. 10. An online session will be held at noon Nov. 15 to provide additional information.

Associate Editor

Brent Addleman is an Associate Editor and a veteran journalist with more than 25 years of experience. He has served as editor of newspapers in Pennsylvania and Texas, and has also worked at newspapers in Delaware, Maryland, New York, and Kentucky.