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Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute to create new health district

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ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - The Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute will expand, but not just with a building and jobs.

Plans are underway to create a health sciences and technology innovation district. This will connect the hospital to the downtown area along the Jefferson corridor.

The plan is to fill many of the nearby vacant lots and under-used buildings, with hopes of making it one of the top health sciences areas in the country.

This announcement after the General Assembly approved $46.7 million in state funding. That will be matched by $21 million from Virginia Tech and Carilion Clinic.

The vision includes a number of private sector companies and businesses.

Initial estimates put economic benefits for the region at around $400 million each year.

Roanoke city manager Chris Morrill said, "The good thing about these high paying jobs is they have a higher multiplier effect, and it's going to help a whole range of our economy."

Leaders believe the innovation district could be up and running in the next two to three years.