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Editorial: Business shows generous support for MU research

Jan. 12, 2013 @ 12:15 AM

Marshall University this week reached a big milestone in its efforts to grow as a research university.

The West Virginia Research Trust Fund, set up by the legislature in 2008, allocated $15 million for Marshall and $35 million for West Virginia University, if the schools could raise matching amounts by 2015.

With recent gifts from Allied Realty Co. and the Brickstreet Insurance Foundation, Marshall met its goal with time to spare. The "Bucks For Brains" match translates into a $30 million investment in research, which already has led to the creation of 16 new research endowments.

The community owes a debt of thanks to the forward-thinking businesses and institutions that contributed to the research match program, because over time that investment will help create new jobs in our community and across the state.

On the grandest scale, university research can be the driving force in dramatic economic growth -- think Stanford and the Silicon Valley. But increasingly, smaller states have found that investing in research can pay off for them as well. In Kentucky, the matching-investment program that served as the model for the West Virginia program ramped up campus research in Lexington and Louisville and helped create 60 new companies in its first 10 years.

We think West Virginia needs to view the current "Bucks for Brains" program as just a first step.

A bill introduced in the legislature last year would have added millions more in matching money for the universities. It did not make it out of committee, but the successful fundraising effort at Marshall shows the community support is strong.

Hopefully, lawmakers will revisit an addition appropriation during the 2013 session.

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