Cities including Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Jose submitted bids Wednesday to be the site of the headquarters for California’s new stem cell agency, a distinction officials hope will bring high-paying jobs and political prestige to the winner.
The proposed California Institute for Regenerative Medicine will not directly conduct research and will house only about 50 employees. But it will distribute $300 million a year, over 10 years, to medical centers and campuses that are conducting embryonic stem cell research.
“Any number of locations would be suitable for this site,” said Zach Hall, the agency’s interim president. “But we are delighted to see that we are so desirable. This process has elicited a wonderful outpouring of civic pride and competition.”
Los Angeles’ proposal, which was released by Mayor James K. Hahn on Wednesday, would offer 17,000 square feet of free office space at City National Plaza downtown, along with $1 million in grants from the Eli and Edythe L. Broad Foundation, the Keck Foundation and other sources.
The city also would provide the institute free meeting space at the Los Angeles Convention Center for gatherings of 150 people or more. And the Broad Foundation would provide the institute with private corporate-jet services for business travel.
Hahn, who is running for reelection, said the headquarters could bring thousands of jobs to Los Angeles.
“We saw this as a tremendous opportunity for Los Angeles,” said Hahn, who described the proposal as part of his larger plan to strengthen the city’s biotechnology industry.
Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa, Hahn’s challenger in the May 17 election, released a statement that belittled Hahn for “playing catch-up” with more aggressive efforts by San Francisco, San Jose, San Diego, Sacramento and Emeryville, Calif.
As Hahn was “busy issuing phony press releases, other cities were hard at work putting together credible proposals,” the statement said.
Hahn denied that the city was late to the competition.
Not to be outdone, San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales drove to the state Department of General Services in Sacramento and hand-delivered 10 copies of his city’s 25-page proposal hours before the 5 p.m. deadline.
San Jose’s key benefits include a decade of free rent at prime locations and a broad coalition of regional leadership support in Silicon Valley.
“We’re not worried about the competition,” Gonzales said. “We’ll stack up well, and be the leader.”
Though there was nothing unusual about the delivery of San Francisco’s bid package, “it’s what’s inside that counts,” said Jesse Blout, director of the mayor’s Office of Economic Development. “We’re going to have an extremely attractive proposal.”
Sacramento offered 16,000 square feet of rent-free, premier downtown property about four miles from UC Davis Medical Center and 150 yards from the state Capitol and lawmakers.
That kind of talk excited David Serrano Sewell, a member of the independent oversight committee for Proposition 71, which was approved by voters in November.
“It represents intense interest statewide,” Serrano Sewell said. “And why not? One of these cities will house the premier center for stem cell research in California.”
Department of General Services officials said a complete list of the communities competing for the center would be released in April.