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Outlook for biotech jobs brighter than anticipated

The outlook for Arizona biotech industry jobs may be brighter than anticipated, 175 University of Arizona students learned at a BIO5 Institute event Tuesday.

W.L. Gore & Associates Inc.’s medical products division plans to hire about 1,500 employees in Phoenix and Flagstaff, said Cody Bliss, product specialist.

Bliss made the trek down from Flagstaff to meet and greet UA students studying biotech, engineering, information technology and other disciplines.While Tuesday’s event was not a formal job fair, many job résumés were dropped off with six participating biotech companies from around the state.

About 25 percent of employees at BioVigilant Systems Inc., a Tucson-based instantaneous microbial detection firm, were affiliated with UA, said Scott Morris, manager of special projects. The firm will consider UA students when filling current openings, Morris said.

But the economic slowdown and other factors mean other area bio firms are not currently hiring.

“In the past we’ve hired quite a few people out of UA,” said Kenneth F. Wertman, scientific director at Sanofi-Aventis Combinatorial Technologies Center in Tucson. “I wish I had hired a number of people I met here today but we’re waiting for the economy to turn around.”

Hilary Taylor, a UA senior in molecular and cellular biology, said she began sending out résumés in December and looked at the event to broaden her contact base for employment.

The event was held to introduce biotech firms to UA students, and vice versa, said Kevin Hall, director of research, training and career development at BIO5.

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