Biotech Expansion For Japanese Firm In Holly Springs

CAROLINA PUBLIC PRESS—A biotech manufacturer that’s expanding its facility under construction in Holly Springs in southern Wake County, want to take advantage of the workforce in the area.

Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies is a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Fujifilm Corporation. The company, whose new expansion plans were announced by the governor’s office last week, helps develop and manufacture products including vaccines, cell and gene therapies and oncolytic viruses, according to the company’s press release.

Fujifilm’s existing facility in Holly Springs is still under construction, the company told Carolina Public Press in an email. In total, the completed facility will now be more than 1.3 million square feet.

With the new expansion, the facility will become one of the largest cell culture biopharmaceutical contract development and manufacturing, or CDMO, facilities in North America, the company said.

The site will make bulk drug substance for biopharmaceutical treatments and conditions such as cancer and Alzheimer’s, the company told CPP.

The expansion will allow the company to add bioreactors for new projects, increasing its production capacity, according to the company’s press release. This will help meet biopharma customers’ needs as well as “provide supply chain resiliency,” a company press release said.

The expansion also aims to meet market demands, the company said, such as increasing demands for antibody drugs – the antibody drug market is expected to grow at a yearly rate of 8% through 2030.

The company plans to invest $1.2 billion in the project through 2028, and will bring 680 new jobs by 2031, according to the N.C. Department of Commerce.

Positions include engineers, scientists, manufacturing personnel and other support staff, the governor’s office said. The average annual wage is expected to be $109,923, in comparison to Wake County’s average of $74,866.

The Fujifilm announcement came April 11, the same day Gov. Roy Cooper met with Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio and his wife Kishida Yuko at Raleigh-Durham International Airport after they attended a state dinner at the White House the previous day.

Japan is the largest source of foreign direct investment in North Carolina, according to the governor’s office, making up nearly half of all such investment in the state. Currently, more than 30,500 North Carolinians work at Japanese-owned companies, the governor’s office said.

The initial phase of construction will be operational by 2025, the company told CPP.

In 2021, Fujifilm announced a $2 billion investment and more than 700 new jobs on the same site, in addition to its RTP campus, the Town of Holly Spring’s press release said.

The company told CPP that proximity to the Research Triangle region was important because of the “strong pool of technical talent and close location to Universities.” 

The facility is in Holly Springs Business Park, where other members include CSL Seqirus, a flu vaccine provider, according to Irena Krstanovic, Holly Springs Economic Development Director.

The facility also aims for carbon net zero operations by offsetting its energy needs through renewable landfill gas, onsite solar and annual sustainable solar energy from a virtual power purchase agreement, the company said. 

Fujifilm considered other locations in Singapore, Denmark and Ventura County, California, according to the N.C. Commerce Department.

The company has been communicating with North Carolina public officials about new expansion since the beginning of the year, the company said.

Holly Springs was ideal because of investments in water, sewer and road infrastructure, as well as sustainable energy resources and a “strong pool of diverse and highly-skilled talent,” Lars Petersen, president and chief executive officer of Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies, said in company press release.

The N.C. Commerce Department said at an April 11 economic investment committee meeting that the company also factored in “operational synergies, proximity to patients, local incentives, workforce capabilities and market access.”

The state approved a Job Development Investment Grant that would use new tax revenue to potentially reimburse the company up to $14.9 million over 12 years from new tax revenue, as well as an additional $3 million in incentives from the community college system and the Division of Workforce Services. 

That’s contingent on the company meeting incremental job creation and investment targets.

Because the total award is higher than the grant statute’s general maximum ratio of withholdings in the first five years, the state economic investment committee approved a special finding to pass the grant in its meeting. 

The Town of Holly Springs also offered the company a grant of 50% of property taxes paid over six years up to $20,236,800 million. The incentive kicks in after the company generates at least $20 million in property tax revenue to the town first, Krstanovic said.

Wake County also offered $30.6 million as an incentive, according to the state commerce department.

The town informed neighborhoods adjacent to the industrial park of their plans to recruit companies to the business park, and residents are “generally” supportive and understanding of the positive economic impact, Krstanovic said over email.

There aren’t any housing plans specific to the project, but the community has diverse housing options, Krstanovic said. The town is also managing its growth, including the challenge of additional traffic, she said.

“The town already has plans underway to ease congestion, by adding or widening roadways,” Krstanovic told CPP in an email.  

Wake County and its municipalities are focused on the challenges of building adequate infrastructure for new businesses and residents as well as housing affordability, said Michael Haley, Executive Director of Wake County Economic Development, in an email to CPP. 

Another biotech company recently announced plans for a manufacturing facility in Wilson, in March. SCHOTT Pharma USA’s facility will be the first in the U.S. for a type of syringe used in deep-cold storage and transportation of mRNA medications.

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