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Baltimore’s Biotech Hub May Be Fueled by Graduate Students

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Construction cranes have returned to the skies over Baltimore’s largest-ever redevelopment project.

But financing remains a roadblock to transforming a blighted neighborhood into a biotech park.

Biotech was supposed to be the economic engine for change in the neighborhood just north of the Johns Hopkins Medical Campus.

Instead, bulldozers are clearing land for graduate school housing.

"This will put nearly 600 adults on the street every single day," Chris Shea, chief of East Baltimore Development Incorporated, says.

The agency is charged with bringing people and jobs to an 88-acre site that’s been frozen by the recession.

Shea says financing for biotech and conventional housing remains hard to come by.

But Hopkins wanted the space for its students. And Shea thinks they can be magnets for revitalization, "So that we can finally get that grocery store, that coffee shop, we can finally get the exercise and recreation amenities."

And Shea says life science grad students and post-docs are the kind of people that would eventually work at biotech start-ups.

Whether those companies will come to East Baltimore remains unclear.

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