Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and University of Connecticut President Susan Herbst were on hand Wednesday to watch as construction workers began pulling down building on the UConn Health Center campus to make room for the new Jackson Laboratory.

The state borrowed $291 million to help build the genomic research lab in a deal approved by the legislature last year with the Maine-based Jackson Laboratory to create and retain 300 jobs by its 10th year of operation.

Malloy said the state’s investment in the biomedical industry hasn’t gone unnoticed. He said people were talking about it on his recent trip to China.

“This stuff has worldwide implications and sometimes, not always but sometimes in Connecticut, we tend to dwell on the small and not the big picture. This is big picture stuff. This is about repositioning a university” and the state’s bioscience industry, he said. “If you don’t see it, you might actually be blind.”

Herbst said the “humble-looking” buildings which began to be torn down Wednesday over the decades have served a variety of functions. They’ve been classrooms and home to various research endeavors, she said.

“All of these projects have been relocated as the site now makes way for the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine and pursuit of new treatments and new cures,” Herbst said.