SOUTH LOOP — Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced plans Tuesday for a Downtown biotech hub center to spur medical research and the life sciences.
Emanuel announced the plan at the Bio International Convention at McCormick Place, almost as if to answer Texas Gov. Rick Perry's efforts earlier in the day to lure medical businesses to the Lone Star State.
Perry, in town in part to persuade Illinois businesses to move to Texas, boasted to conventioneers at McCormick Place, many specializing in biotech industries, that Texas is "a state that is quite conducive to the kind of work that you do."
Perry cited Texas' lack of a state income tax and its legal system favoring business on matters like worker's compensation.
"We compete with the other 49 states, and we compete around the globe," he said in a brief address at the Texas Pavilion at Bio 2013. He said that, though it can be "uncomfortable" to be "pushed," that's "how we become stronger, how we become better."
The former Republican presidential candidate concluded, "That's how America becomes stronger."
Although in his keynote welcome Tuesday Emanuel never mentioned Perry directly, as he had the day before when he mocked Perry for coming to Illinois, he laid out the competitive advantages to be gained with a biotech hub.
By bringing the city's abundant medical hospitals together with medical researchers and pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies "under one roof," he said it would spur innovation and development. Emanuel compared it to the 1871 technology-based incubator launched at the Merchandise Mart last year.
"The bioscience industry is not located on the East Coast or the West Coast, but here, in the city of Chicago,” Emanuel said. “This important project furthers my vision to strengthen Chicago’s place as the hub of the bioscience industry by partnering with leading companies, universities and venture-capital firms to promote large and small businesses in the city. I look forward to working with all members of the biotech community to make the City of Chicago the best place to innovate and commercialize these technologies."
Emanuel specifically mentioned Streeterville as potential location of the biotech hub, given the medical-research facility Northwestern University is building there on the site of the old Prentice Women's Hospital. But the mayor's staff later clarified that no location is set, except that it's planned for Downtown.