Steve Beshear, governor of Kentucky, says all of the US states may be suffering in some way or another from the effects of the economic downturn but now is not the time “to hunker down and wait it out.”

Call for aggression

“Now is the time to be aggressive and proactive in a lot of areas, particularly in economic development,” he says. “That is what Kentucky is going to do. We are going to continue to be very aggressive. We are going to continue to fund the biotech programmes that we have.”

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The governor describes what he says is a unique group of financial programmes that have proven highly attractive to young biotech firms, such as a state offer to match federal funding that young, high-tech start-up companies can obtain.

Double your money

“When they receive their grant from the federal government, Kentucky matches that grant dollar for dollar up to a certain amount, so in effect they can double their money by being in Kentucky and working with us. We are the only state in the country that has that kind of programme and it has proven very attractive for young companies in the high-tech field to come to Kentucky to experience,” he says.

Funding pools

“We also have high-tech funding pools that were set up four or five years ago that are there for investment and construction purposes. We are very active with the pools and working with companies that need assistance in those areas,” adds Mr Beshear.

The funding commitments are proof positive of the state government’s commitment to biotechnology and other knowledge and technology intensive sectors, the governor says, and because of this “Kentucky is reaching a critical mass where things seem to be exploding now in a very good way”.