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This building on the MinnWest Technology Campus in Willmar will house the new biotechnology research and business development center. This building on the MinnWest Technology Campus in Willmar will house the new biotechnology research and business development center.

$1.25 million grant launches U of M research center at Minnwest Tech in Willmar

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WILLMAR - A $1.25 million state grant will launch development of a $2.5 million biotechnology research and business development center at the MinnWest Technology Campus in Willmar.

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The Mid-Central Biosciences Center is collaboration between the University of Minnesota, the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, the city of Willmar and MinnWest, a private venture that provides facilities for new and expanding businesses in biosciences.

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development announced Monday the grant had been awarded to the city of Willmar. MinnWest will provide matching funds.

An existing building on the campus, which had previously housed the Willmar Regional Treatment Center, will be renovated and equipped as a biotechnology laboratory and research center.

The University of Minnesota will operate the center and St. Cloud State University will be the lead institution from MnSCU. Students from both systems will be involved through coursework, laboratory studies and research internships.

The center will offer access to laboratory and research equipment that could otherwise be unaffordable to startup companies and small businesses, according to a press release.

"This is a big step toward realize MinnWest's goal of advancing Willmar as a center of economic excellence," said Jim Sieben, president of MinnWest.

The renovation project will begin immediately and will be completed by next fall.

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