As things currently stand, a lot of the best biotech jobs are found on the coasts. Biotech job seekers are applying with companies in Boston, San Francisco, and San Diego. But now, industry leaders are looking at what could potentially become the next biotech hub: Chicago.
Like so many other northern cities struggling with tough economic times, Chicago has seen an exodus of big business in recent years. The largely blue-collar town has struggled to keep its head above water while cities like Tampa, FL and Salt Lake City, UT have continued to grow and thrive. But the Windy City isn’t dead yet. Moreover, some city leaders think life sciences could be the future. If it is, biotech will be part of it.
Available Space Abounds
One of Chicago’s big disadvantages has become an advantage for land developers and property investors. What is it? Plenty of available space. There are millions of square feet of empty office and lab space in the city. There is also land on which to build. According to the Chicago Tribune, this is not lost on the life sciences sector and its partners in commercial real estate.
There is a move underway to lease all that open space for biotech and life sciences. Apparently, several million square feet have already been leased and there are plans to lease several million more. Meanwhile, of few new projects are underway. Developers are building towers with office space and labs designed specifically to accommodate life sciences.
Things are still in the early stages, so the biotech jobs aren’t yet available in droves. But all signs suggest they will be before too long. As long as developers can get the right companies involved, we should start seeing a larger number of jobs coming up in short order.
Stopping the Brain Drain
Chicago’s sudden interest in life sciences and biotech is about more than saving the local economy. That is certainly important, but city leaders also want to stop the brain drain. They recognize the fact that plenty of bright students grow up in the Windy City, complete their educations, and promptly leave for better employment opportunities elsewhere.
We have seen similar things happen in other places. Consider Rochester, NY. At one time, it was a leading manufacturing center with the likes of Eastman Kodak, Xerox, GM, Johnson & Johnson, and Bausch & Lomb employing most of the local workforce. But in the late 1980s, things began to change. The area lost tons of manufacturing jobs and, with those jobs, residents. Rochester is now a shell of its former self.
Chicago is fighting to stop the same thing from happening to them. They do not want to become an irrelevant city, a stop on the way to either coast. But if they want to stop the brain drain, they need to have the jobs. Thus the heavy push to make Chicago the next life sciences center.
Keep Chicago in Mind
In your search for a pharmaceutical or biotech job, keep Chicago in mind. There may be no job openings in the Windy City right now, but that may change in a year or two. Chicago should be on your short list of employment destinations if you’ve ever wanted to live in a dynamic, world-class city with so much to offer.Who knows? Perhaps Chicago is poised to become the nation’s next biotech hub. If nothing else, land developers and city leaders appear to be ready to give it their best effort. They are determined to land life sciences companies willing to give the city a chance.