RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Raybow USA,  a custom chemical research and development company in the western North Carolina city of Brevard, has announced plans to invest $15.8 million over the next five years in an expansion that will add 74 employees to its current workforce of 26.

The facility is the North American headquarters of publicly held Chinese contract manufacturer Raybow Pharmaceutical, a global provider of outsourced pharmaceutical development and manufacturing services, from preclinical through commercial, for biotechnology and big pharma clients. The company was founded in 2008 and is headquartered in Taizhou, China.

The expansion is the latest in a series of life science expansions for North Carolina worth several billion dollars and and creating thousands of jobs over time.

Raybow said the new positions will include research chemist, pilot-plant personnel and supervisors. Once the project’s new jobs are in place, the region will benefit from nearly $5.7 million in new payroll. The expansion represents a collaboration involving the company, the State of North Carolina and local leadership.

The company plans to add 34,000 square feet to its existing site, which it occupied in late 2019 with the purchase of PharmAgra Labs for an undisclosed sum. The additional facilities will include new technology, laboratory space and specialized equipment.

Raybow Pharmaceuticals

PharmAgra Labs was established in 1999 by entrepreneurs Roger Frisbee and Peter Newsome, who relocated it to the Brevard site in 2003. They remain co-presidents of Raybow USA. In 2012, NCBiotech awarded a two-year Industrial Fellowship – totaling close to $100,000 – to PharmAgra to support the company’s efforts to commercialize the dermal and cosmetic applications for one of its proprietary compounds.

The parent company is a contract development manufacturing organization (CDMO) and chemistry services provider with a reported 1,700 employees worldwide. The company serves many of the leading pharmaceutical names across Asia, Europe, and North America.

“These investments fit perfectly with our long-term goal of expanding our operations in Transylvania County,” said Newsome in the announcement. Frisbee added, “We are excited about expanding our operations in Brevard and supporting future economic development in Transylvania County. Pete and I look forward to continuing our work, which now includes increased global capabilities and reach.”

PharmAgra Labs entrance, now Raybow USA.

Jonathan Snover, Ph.D., executive director of the Western Office of the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, said the expansion is a major boost for employment and the economy in the region. “This expansion is an amazing win for the western region of NC and many economic development partners have worked hard to make this happen. I would like to especially congratulate Pete Newsome and Roger Frisbee for years of hard work as scientists-entrepreneurs to establish such a business in Brevard.

“Raybow’s decision highlights the potential for building such a company in Brevard.  We look forward to a strong relationship with the company as it grows its global reach.”

Machelle Sanders, North Carolina’s newly appointed secretary of commerce, expressed her appreciation for her department’s ability to support Raybow’s investment.

“I congratulate this company, and its exceptional employees, on the success that has led to this expansion,” she said in a remote video announcement, linked at the bottom of this story. “We look forward to continuing to be a partner of Raybow USA — a partner in your long-term success.”

Peter Halkjaer-Knudsen, executive vice president of Raybow Pharmaceutical said, “Raybow Pharmaceutical is proud to announce that, after only one year, we are ready to further increase our commitment in North Carolina. We are grateful for the warm welcome we have received and the continued support we experienced during the feasibility studies for this expansion. Transylvania County has proven to be the right choice for our North American headquarters and R&D operations, and we very much look forward to the continued journey with the people of North Carolina.”

Jason Chappell, chairman of the Transylvania County Board of Commissioners said, “We are excited by the opportunity this project brings to Transylvania County. Raybow USA offers high-wage, high-tech job opportunities to our community. We commend the continued investment and commitment to Transylvania County and look forward to growing this partnership in the years ahead. This is a major economic development announcement not only for Transylvania County, but for our region and North Carolina. The success and investment of this business is a testament to the strength and vitality of Transylvania County, and our dedication to expanding and growing our economic base. I would like to extend our warmest thanks and appreciation to Raybow’s local leadership team, CEO, Mr. Bin Wang and Chairwoman Ms. Hua Lirong for placing the company’s trust in Transylvania County. We look forward to being a continued partner in their endeavors in Transylvania County and wish them all the best success.”

Brevard Mayor Jimmy Harris added, “Brevard is a community of excellence. The businesses which call our community home are truly exceptional. Raybow USA has and will continue to be successful because they recognize to attract the best and brightest workforce, location matters, employees want to live and work in our special community. Our small, but vibrant community has all the benefits of traditional biotechnology hubs but with the authentic character and appeal of being one of the most recognized and celebrated small towns in America.”

Amber Webb, chairwoman of the Transylvania Economic Alliance commented, “Investment in high-tech advanced manufacturing companies is vital to sustaining economic growth in our rural community. Transylvania County is well positioned to grow the life sciences and biotechnology cluster due to our established companies, attractiveness to global talent and our focus to grow our own workforce through collaborations with Transylvania County Public Schools, Blue Ridge Community College and our local 4-year institution, Brevard College. Looking to the future we are truly excited about this expansion and the synergies and advancement which will continue to emerge based on this project.”

The project was made possible by performance-based economic development grants including a $375,000 five-year award from the One North Carolina Fund and a separate grant from the Transylvania County Economic Development Incentive program. Companies receiving this funding must meet job creation and capital investment targets to qualify for payment.

Please go to this video by the Transylvania Alliance for a very cool connection to everything you’ve just read, and then some.

(C) N.C. Biotechnology Center