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updated: 2/7/2014 7:03 AM

Quinn touts new biotech center in Chicago

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Associated Press

Illinois is investing approximately $4 million for a new Chicago center designed to help start medical technology companies, state officials announced Thursday.

It'll be called MATTER and modeled after 1871, a hub for digital startups state officials say created about 800 jobs in the first year. The idea for the medical hub is to bring together entrepreneurs and prospective investors to grow new companies.

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The public-private project will get a $2.5 million grant and a $1.5 million loan, both administered through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. The center was mentioned in Gov. Pat Quinn's recent State of the State address as a way he proposed to create jobs in Illinois, which has one of the highest unemployment rates nationwide.

"We are committed to taking our medical technology industry to the next level," Quinn said in a statement.

The center will open later this year and be run by a nonprofit group. Business executives, including Paragon Pharmaceuticals CEO Jeffrey Aronin, will sit on the board. Aronin said in a statement that hundreds of entrepreneurs and university and industry leaders have volunteered time to help plan the center.

The approximately 25,000-square-foot facility, to be located near 1871 in Chicago's Merchandise Mart, will offer office space for startups and classes and other events for entrepreneurs and industry professionals.

Named after the period of intensive rebuilding during the year of the Great Chicago Fire, 1871 is home to more than 200 startups and is operated by the nonprofit Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center.

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