CHARLESTON, S.C. – GenPhar, a biopharmaceutical firm, will spend $33 million to build a manufacturing facility for biological medicines in nearby Mount Pleasant.

The company, which is based in Mount Pleasant, said it chose to build the facility in South Carolina rather than in Research Triangle Park, N.C. and other markets.

The expansion will mean an additional 120 jobs at least at GenPhar, which currently employs 20 people. Average wages will be $40 per hour, the company said. The city of Mount Pleasant approved plans for the building last week.

When completed, the 50,000 square foot facility will be the first to meet good manufacturing practice (GMP) standards as required by the Food and Drug Administration.

GenPhar will also base its headquarters and labs at the facility. The building is expected to be finished by May 2008.

Among potential products are vaccines to be created for the U.S. BioShield program. GenPhar is working on a vaccine for the Ebola virus among other projects. It received a $4 million federal grant last September for virus vaccine research.

John Dong, president and chief science officer of GenPhar, said a key factor in picking the Charleston area was the presence of the Medical University of South Carolina.

“There is an untapped talent pool in this region,” Dong said. “I believe MUSC has teaching and research programs in the same class as many Ivy League schools. The fresh technology developed at MUSC is the best kept secret in the nation, and I’m hoping other biotech companies will capitalize on these resources, and at the same time, enjoy one of the most beautiful natural environments in the world.”

The company, which was launched in 1999, also considered San Francisco, Seattle, Houston and Pittsburgh as possible locations.

The Charleston Regional Development Alliance worked with GenPhar in the site selection process.