Wake Forest Biotech Place officially opens

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center's highly anticipated home for biotechnology research is officially open.

The Wake Forest Biotech Place officially opened Tuesday in a renovated RJ Reynolds building known as Building 91.

About 350 people will be working at the 242,000 square-foot center, with the promise of another 100 jobs being created over the next year.

While Wake Forest is moving some of its departments from the school of medicine to the new location, there is also space inside for private companies that want to move in.

Right now, one biotech company, Carolina Liquid Chemistries take up some of that space. Other space is taken up by a credit union and a restaurant.

Carolina Liquid Chemistries, a designer and builder of blood analyzers, grew from 2 to 70 employees and moved to grow again.

"Within the next two to three years, we have plans to be twice the size we are now," said Bill Brunson with Carolina Liquid Chemistry.

Wake Forest officials believe many other biotech companies will follow Carolina Liquid Chemistries and take up space in the building.

The Biotech Place is the 8th building in the Piedmont Triad Research Park. RJR stopped using Building 91 in the 1980s and donated it to the research park in 2005.

The building's original floors and columns were kept, and the unique glass blocks  facing the outside are original. Contractors were able to repair the broken ones with original blocks Reynolds kept stored for years.

State and federal tax credits, as well as help from the city and county for infrastructure, helped finance the renovations.

Several city blocks in the area were updated with new pavement, bike racks and lighting.