A workforce training center focused on jobs in the life sciences is expected to open next year inside the former Boston Globe headquarters at 135 Morrissey Boulevard, according to a joint announcement by the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council (MassBio), a trade group, and Beacon Capital Partners, a real estate investment firm that worked with the developer Nordblom Co. on the redevelopment of the property.
The 4,000 square-foot facility will have three “fast-track” certificate training programs for those looking for a career as a technician or a lab assistant.
Developers first dubbed the 700,000 square-foot former Globe headquarters as “The BEAT,” a nod to reporters who had worked inside it from 1958 to its closing and sale in 2017. The building has since been renamed Southline, partly a nod to the facility’s location south of Boston proper. The space is geared toward life science companies affiliated with Flagship Pioneering, a biotech venture firm, and Nobull, a sportswear company.
Looking ahead, the developers are seeking to build a six-story building, also focused on biotech space, behind the former newspaper facility next to the Southeast Expressway.
The training center is expected to offer lab space, classrooms, and programming to deal with workforce shortages and skills gaps, as well as help with “our deep desire to bring underrepresented and marginalized individuals into the life sciences industry,” Kendalle Burlin O’Connell, MassBIO’s president and chief operating officer, said in a statement.
A MassBIO survey earlier this year showed that among 120 companies, 78 percent said they expected to hire employees. In 2021, the biopharmaceutical workforce added 12,00 jobs, driven by venture capital and the construction of new lab and biomanufacturing space.
Dorchester, in particular, could become home to some of that new space. Various developers making their way through the city’s approvals process have proposed new lab space at “Dorchester Bay City,” which will be anchored at the former Bayside Expo Center and extend across Mount Vernon Street to where a Santander Bank now stands.
Then there’s the stretch of land between the BEAT and JFK/UMass Red Line Station, known as 35-75 Morrissey. Its proximity to the T station, and from there a short ride to Cambridge’s Kendall Square, a hub of biotech companies, has made the area attractive to developers.
“This center will be the perfect addition to the biotech ecosystem that is developing at Southline,” Steve Purpura, president of the life sciences section at Beacon Capital Partners, said. “It will create more community awareness around the opportunities in the life sciences industry which will translate into much needed labor for the biotech industry that is in dire need of trained talent at this level.”
The training programs will be free, and a stipend will be offered to offset lost work hours, according to the organizations. “Certificate holders will have access to sophisticated entry-level positions with beginning salaries expected to pay mid to high five-figures plus benefits,” they said in a release.
UMass Boston, which is a short walk across Morrissey Boulevard from 135 Morrissey, is also involved, as is Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.
“As Boston’s only public research university and the most diverse university in New England, UMass Boston is committed to working alongside MassBio to strengthen our pipeline of talented, hardworking, and diverse students,” said UMass Boston Chancellor Marcelo Suárez-Orozco.
“With four out of five UMass Boston graduates staying in Massachusetts after graduation,” he added, “this purpose-built initiative will advance our goals of creating economic opportunity while strengthening the life sciences cluster that is so central to our economy.”
Frank Baker, whose City Council district includes the Southline facility, has long pushed for life sciences job opportunities for Dorchester residents.
“Training our residents right around the corner from where many of them live to provide them entry into rewarding careers in the life sciences is an integral part in the creation of a better future for our children,” he said in his own statement.