ýƵ celebrates partner Eli Lilly's Pinnacle Award

Eli Lilly, nominated by ýƵ and Wake Tech, was named Business of the Year among large companies by the North Carolina Community College System and honored at a celebration on April 17, receiving the college system’s Pinnacle Award.

In their joint nomination, ýƵ and Wake Tech highlighted Eli Lilly's vital partnership with both colleges to train a skilled biotechnology workforce.  

In late 2020, Lilly announced its plan to invest nearly $500 million in a new manufacturing center in Research Triangle Park. Lilly also announced that it would be hiring 500 employees for the facility, with an average wage of $73,000. Concurrently, development staff at Wake Tech began conversations with Lilly executives about developing working training and education to prepare the talent pipeline that would be essential for success.

"Lilly has always believed that we're not just a company in the area, we're supposed to be your neighbor. So, by working with the community colleges, we're not only getting the people we need, we're getting to help the community," said Joe Owen, senior director of Human Resources at Lilly RTP. "ýƵ and Wake Tech both have different programs that will benefit anyone that wants to learn biotechnology and especially in pharmaceutical manufacturing."

Lilly donated $1.1 million to support the biotechnology programs of both Wake Tech and ýƵ. The donation made it possible to launch an innovative workforce collaboration called RTP Bio, which includes articulation agreements between the two institutions to ensure the smooth transfer of course credits as well as resources for equipment, training and apprenticeship programs that the colleges share.    

"The Lilly Science and Technology Center is here on the Wake Tech RTP Campus because they recognized the need and the value and the community contribution of contributing to a talent pipeline," said Dr. Scott Ralls, president of Wake Tech.  

Lilly's support made it possible for the two institutions to provide focused, customized training programs and prepare the talent pipeline that biotech companies can rely on.  

"This is really a great recognition of Eli Lilly. It was recognizing what Lilly did to support what ýƵ and Wake Tech ought to be doing to help build the talent pipeline, but that kind of industry engagement is critical to helping us make it happen," said J.B. Buxton, president of ýƵ.