University economic development gets Senate OK

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A bill that would allow the state’s colleges and universities to take a more active role in economic development has been approved by the Senate.

With only two senators voting against it earlier today, the proposal now moves to the House.

Senate Bill 773, sponsored by Mary Kay Papen, D-Las Cruces, would expand the University Research Park Act to allow institutions of higher learning to pursue any sort of economic development partnership with a private company that could be used to develop new technology, create learning opportunities for students or support university teaching, research or service initiatives.

The act currently limits universities to private partnerships strictly for research and development. Papen said that has been an obstacle “when some of our institutions of higher education have been approached to form research park corporations to work with students to produce movies or other media products, or to lease research park property to businesses that would offer educational and training opportunities that would prepare students for entry into the larger employment world.”

The bill has the backing of the state’s Council of University Presidents.

“This measure will allow our institutions of higher education to compete for opportunities that other states have been able to capitalize on to their betterment,” Papen said. “And, at the same time, we can unleash the kind of creativity that thrives when we have collaboration occurring between the private sector and those institutions.”

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