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$2.5 Million from New Markets Tax Credits Announced for Rosalind Franklin University Innovation and Research Park
Funds will help create jobs and provide opportunities for North Chicago, Waukegan residents
Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science has received $2.5 million in expendable funding through federal new markets tax credits to support the development of its Innovation and Research Park, which will create an estimated 500 direct and related jobs and a total economic regional impact of $117 million per year.
RFU also intends to use a portion of these funds for community initiatives including the development of bioscience-related job training and internship opportunities, and an expansion of its efforts to provide health services to the uninsured and mentoring and educational pathways to underserved students.
“This funding will help us discover and deliver new treatments and cures across the nation and the globe,” said RFU Interim President Dr. Wendy Rheault. “But its most visible and immediate impact will be in our own backyard, as we reach deeper into our community to offer opportunities that will improve the health of our people and local economies.”
Now under construction on the university’s campus at 3333 Green Bay Road, North Chicago, IL, the $50 million, four-story Innovation and Research Park will feature state-of-the-art laboratories and meeting and office space designed for collaboration among academic and industry scientists with the goal of accelerating the university’s research into treatment and prevention of chronic diseases, including Alzheimer’s, cancer and diabetes. The building will also offer spaces to life science companies as a means to enhancing interactions and collaborations with innovators and to encourage the sharing of knowledge and exchange of ideas.
The New Markets Tax Credit Program enacted by Congress in 2000 allows private investors to earn tax credits against their federal income tax in exchange for investments in low-income communities. Both North Chicago and Waukegan are federally-designated medically underserved areas, with high rates of uninsured residents and chronic, preventable diseases.
RFU is pursuing numerous strategies to eliminate such health disparities, including the education of a more diverse healthcare workforce and a focus on population health. The university is a founder and lead partner of the Health Professions Education Consortium, which works to expand opportunities in medical and health sciences education and careers by partnering with regional schools, businesses, nonprofits and government to improve the college and workforce readiness of local residents. It also operates the Community Care Connection free health screening mobile health coach, the Interprofessional Community Clinic for the uninsured, and collaborates with the Lake County Opioid Partnership.
The university and its development partners envision a research park that will spur economic growth and development for North Chicago and Waukegan while serving as a hub for the bio-startup ecosystem in Lake County, which is home to the largest concentration of bioscience companies in the Midwest.
“We’re gratified and energized by the strong support we’ve received from our local, state and federal elected officials and industry and community partners,” said RFU Executive Vice President of Research Dr. Ronald Kaplan. “Working together, we’re placing the research park on solid financial footing so that it can benefit our university, our communities and our region for generations to come.
“We’re true to our mission in recognizing that we can’t move the university forward and leave our community behind.”
Slated for completion in late summer 2019, the Innovation and Research Park is a public/private partnership between the university, the City of North Chicago, Lake County, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and developer not-for-profit TUFF, The University Financing Foundation.
RFU will deploy funds from NMTC investments made by two community development entities: SunTrust Community Capital LLC and Urban Research Park LLC. The university will also attract investment through economic incentives as part of the Waukegan-North Chicago Enterprise Zone, a state program designed to stimulate economic growth and community revitalization at the local level.
“Leveraging diverse capital sources is one of the many ways TUFF brings value to our university partners,” said TUFF President Kevin Byrne. “Rosalind Franklin University’s receipt of new markets tax credits is an important achievement. It speaks to the excellence of their plan for the Innovation and Research Park, their ability to meet the NMTC’s stringent eligibility requirements and their strong commitment to their community.”