VGR Advanced Pharma Blog Series: Special Edition


Multiple Grants Support Momentum of Emerging Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Cluster in Gateway Region 

~ Funds to create a talent pipeline through CCWA & JTCC, strengthen infrastructure and increase VGR’s marketability ~

By: Logan Barry

Over the past several years, an “Advanced Pharmaceutical Manufacturing” cluster, with transformative technologies, has steadily emerged in Petersburg, Virginia.  

This is a cluster rooted in the manufacturing, not discovery, of essential medicines. The vision of this cluster is not only to manufacture active pharmaceutical ingredients using new technology, but to literally reinvent the nation’s pharmaceutical supply chain.  

A key economic asset in the Gateway Region is its workforce — it will benefit from the successful pursuit of two separate grants. These grants were recently awarded by two separate entities and will be used over the next two years to support the cluster’s future labor shed. 

John Tyler Community College (JTCC) and its partner, the Community College Workforce Alliance (CCWA), will leverage these grants to support the workforce development needed for growing the cluster within the City of Petersburg and the Gateway Region. 

Over the course of the next 18 months, these grants will support a new Career Studies certificate in Pharmaceutical Manufacturing at JTCC. The development of a new workforce credential which builds on the skill sets demonstrated through the “Manufacturing Technician 1,” level and a “bridge” program in pharmaceutical manufacturing designed to help underemployed residents of Petersburg and surrounding localities prepare for success in JTCC’s education and training for employment in this industry. 

CCWA has been at the table from day one, to understand what this industry needs and explore how to deliver it. They took inventory of the regional educational programs and began to actively fill in the gaps.  

“Working with my CCWA and John Tyler colleagues on this project, has been a highlight of my career,” explains Elizabeth Creamer, Vice President, CCWA. “I am proud of the way we’ve come together quickly to stand up new academic and workforce development programs to prepare technicians and operators for this industry. We’re so grateful for the support of GO Virginia and The Cameron Foundation boards and staff; as well as for the expertise and assistance of our partners with Virginia’s Alliance for Building Better Medicines … also, a GO Virginia-funded initiative.”     

JTCC has developed the “Building an Advanced Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Talent Pipeline” project, abbreviated to: “BPMTP” — offering career-training programs as well as credentials to rising technicians in this new sub-sector of Advanced Manufacturing.  

BPMTP will:  

  1. Address regional interest in growing a diverse pharmaceutical manufacturing talent pipeline. 
  2. Offer programs and credentials which meet the emerging global pharmaceutical manufacturing sector’s immediate workforce demands. 
  3. Grow a diverse regional pipeline of skilled, Advanced Pharmaceutical Manufacturing technicians. 

“The support shown by GO Virginia and The Cameron Foundation continues to highlight the important role of partnerships in the development of the emerging pharmaceutical cluster in Petersburg,” says Dr. Edward “Ted” Raspiller, President of JTCC and Chairman of the VGR Board of Directors. “These grants provide significant resources to the BPMTP initiative, so we can grow a robust and highly-skilled workforce to meet the needs of the pharmaceutical companies that will manufacture essential medicines, right here in the Gateway Region.” 

“Thank you to those who helped make these grants possible. I am very proud that CCWA is seen as a leader in providing workforce solutions for the Advanced Pharmaceutical Manufacturing industry in Petersburg and the region,” emphasizes Keith Boswell, President & CEO of Virginia’s Gateway Region Economic Development Organization … a regional non-profit referred to as a REDO. “This is exactly why VGR partnered with CCWA when we co-hired Michelle Rogers as our Director of Workforce Development, to create a dual-position for both organizations with a focus on the link between economic and workforce development in the Gateway Region,” Boswell points out. 

Student recruitment activities are also supported through these grants.   

“These grants will help VGR continue to successfully foster regional prosperity and deliver innovative resources to our communities, because of the impact they will have on business growth and the collaboration we see from our powerful partnerships throughout the region,” Boswell notes. 

About Virginia’s Gateway Region EDO: 

Virginia’s Gateway Region, or VGR, is the regional economic development organization that markets the tri-cities of Colonial Heights, Hopewell and Petersburg, and the surrounding counties of Dinwiddie, Prince George, Surry and Sussex. VGR focuses its efforts on new and existing business investment and job creation with the goal of funding the region for economic prosperity.    

About GO Virginia: 

GO Virginia is a bipartisan, business-led economic development initiative that is changing the way Virginia’s diverse regions collaborate on economic and workforce development activities. It supports programs to create more high-paying jobs through incentivized collaboration between business, education, and government to diversify and strengthen the economy in every region of the Commonwealth. 

About The Cameron Foundation: 

The Cameron Foundation strives to transform the Tri-Cities and surrounding counties into a healthy, vibrant and economically vital region by strategically leveraging resources for community impact. In working towards this mission, the Foundation focuses on six outcome areas, including healthy residents, education excellence, cultural richness, a vital economy, vibrant communities and dynamic nonprofits. 

Read more about the pharmaceutical manufacturing cluster at: