The North Carolina Biotechnology Center in Research Triangle Park announced yesterday it has created a statewide operations and economic development division to foster the creation and growth of biotechnology companies, business development and new job opportunities throughout the state. Mike Wilkins, senior policy advisor to North Carolina House Speaker Joe Hackney and a former three-term state legislator, has been named senior vice president of statewide operations and economic development. Also, Steven Casey, business development director since August 2006, has been promoted to vice president of statewide development, and Bill Bullock, director of bioscience industrial development, has been promoted to vice president of bioscience industrial development. “This new division is critical to our mission of developing biotechnology and creating high-paying jobs in all parts of the state,” said Norris Tolson, president and CEO. Wilkins will oversee a staff of 15 at the center’s five regional offices, five regional biotechnology advisory committees and worldwide economic development activities. Wilkins previously was founder and COO of Convenience Corner Inc. of Roxboro, N.C. Casey was founder and COO of Expression Analysis of Durham, N.C., a gene expression, genotyping and resequencing business, and prior to that was a manager with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Duke University. Bullock has had two stints at the Biotechnology Center, the most recent a joint position with the state Department of Commerce starting in July 2002. He also spent eight years as vice president of BioAbility, a bioscience consulting firm in Research Triangle Park, and for six years served in production, marketing and technical jobs at Stratagene Cloning Systems of San Diego.