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Mayor Battle Joins HudsonAlpha Officials for Groundbreaking on Campus Expansion

Published on May 10, 2021

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle on Monday joined state and local officials as part of a groundbreaking on two new additions at HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology.

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle stands behind a podium and gestures while making comments at a groundbreaking ceremony for HudsonAlpha. There are people sitting in chairs behind him wearing masks and looking up at him as he speaks. There are plants in the foreground and several blue screens in the background.
Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle speaks Monday, May 10, at a groundbreaking ceremony for a planned expansion of the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology.

The expansion includes a 90,000-square-foot facility that will become Discovery Life Sciences’ (DLS) global headquarters, estimated for completion in Q4 2022. The second part of the dual-purposed expansion is a greenhouse and laboratory space to continue HudsonAlpha’s work in plant genomics and sustainable agriculture. That project is expected to be finished by Q1 2022.

“We’ve always been known as a place that makes something happen and the HudsonAlpha team has made us a special place,” Mayor Battle said.

Joining the Mayor was Gov. Kay Ivey, who attended virtually via Zoom. Also present were House Speaker Mac McCutcheon, State Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong and several representatives from HudsonAlpha, including co-founder Jim Hudson Jr.

The expanded DLS facility will include research and development, laboratory and business operations and consolidate workforces from facilities in California, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The new facility will be built just north of the Propst Center where Monday’s groundbreaking was held.

Mayor Battle praised the success of DLS and its founders, Marshall Schreeder Jr. and Luke Doirian. When they founded the Huntsville startup, it was known as Conversant Bio.

He added the men made the “company into something that had global reach” and that Huntsville was now “on the map” in the biotech world.

The greenhouse and plant genomics research facility will be home to key agricultural and education/workforce development initiatives. It will include 4 acres of crop breeding fields and enable HudsonAlpha’s plant group to lead more large-scale collaborations.

It will also allow HudsonAlpha to locally demonstrate or showcase advancements in crop improvement and develop low-cost tools and genomic sequencing to link plant genes and  features. Mayor Battle explained the facility could play a role in helping farmers get more out of the crops.

“You look at what we can do with genomics, and then you look at the field of wheat right across the road from us,” he said. “From Huntsville, Alabama, we’re developing the science of how to feed the world.”

He said there’s “something very special happening” at HudsonAlpha and praised the vision of founders Hudson Jr. and the late Lonnie McMillian.

“Having a global headquarters of a biotech company located here in Huntsville stretches out our ability to do things, to make others believe this is the place where they need to develop,” Battle said. “This is a very special place.”