RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Thermo Fisher Scientific, a global supplier of products and services that support the life sciences, continues to grow its presence in North Carolina.
Even as the company expands some of its existing facilities in the state, now it is planning to build a 375,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Mebane that will create 150 to 200 jobs in manufacturing, engineering and business operations.
The plant is part of a new co-investment with the U.S. government to produce a domestic supply of critically needed laboratory pipette tips, which are used in disease research and in high volumes for processing of diagnostic tests, including COVID-19 tests. Fisher Scientific has signed a $192.5 million contract with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to establish the site, but the company has declined to say how much it will co-invest.
Construction will be fully completed by the third quarter of 2024, with manufacturing starting as early as the third quarter of 2023. The site, located at 6086 West Ten Road in the new Buckhorn Industrial Park about half a mile south of I-40/85, also has the potential for future expansion across a variety of high-demand product lines, the company said in a news release.
“The new manufacturing facility will help the U.S. meet future demand surges for vital laboratory products while bringing more high-quality jobs to North Carolina,” said Mark Stevenson, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Thermo Fisher Scientific. “With its strategic geographic location and proximity to a diverse talent base, Mebane is an ideal location for this new facility.”
Thermo Fisher currently employs about 4,000 people across seven sites in North Carolina, including a center of excellence for laboratory equipment in Asheville, three life sciences and chemical manufacturing sites in Durham, pharmaceutical manufacturing sites in Greenville and High Point, and a Raleigh distribution center.
“Thermo Fisher continues to expand its footprint in North Carolina, reinforcing our state’s global reputation as a prime location for life sciences companies,” said North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper. “This new investment in Mebane and Orange County proves once again that North Carolina’s biotechnology sector is thriving in every corner of our state.”
Thermo Fisher’s investment in Mebane is part of a larger strategy to build flexible and redundant production capacity in the U.S. and across key regions globally. Increased output from recent site expansions is helping meet ongoing demand for COVID-19-related consumables, including plastics used to collect samples and transport them to labs, as well as for vital equipment used to accelerate production and allow flexibility for both COVID and non-COVID vaccines and therapies.
“Thermo Fisher Scientific is a keystone partner in our life sciences infrastructure,” said Bill Bullock, senior vice president of Economic Development and Statewide Operations at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center. “This company exemplifies the broad range of opportunities available to North Carolinians in life sciences manufacturing, from pharmaceutical production to the precision parts used in delivery systems. And every facet contributes to the wellbeing of our communities and to improving health care around the world.”
Laboratory consumables — from sample collection vials for diagnostic test kits to lab plastics and materials for vaccine production and biobanking — have been vital to the global effort to combat COVID-19. Since the start of the pandemic, Thermo Fisher has invested more than $180 million to expand its laboratory plastics consumables production and another $600 million to increase global bioprocessing capacity for vaccines and medicines.
In addition, the company opened new sites dedicated to manufacturing viral transport media used in COVID-19 sample collection and plasmid DNA used in mRNA-based vaccines. The company’s contract pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in Greenville, where major expansions and upgrades are under way involving several hundred new jobs, began producing Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine this year.
“North Carolina offers companies like Thermo Fisher a diverse life science workforce and world-class universities and community colleges that keep building that workforce day after day,” said Machelle Baker Sanders, secretary of the N.C. Department of Commerce. “In North Carolina, we understand that to attract and help companies compete in today’s global economy, our state must be first in talent, and we’re strongly committed to meeting that goal.”
Thermo Fisher Scientific, headquartered in Waltham, Mass., has annual revenue of about $35 billion and employs more than 90,000 people worldwide. The company supports life sciences research by helping customers solve complex analytical challenges, improve patient diagnostics and therapies or increase productivity in their laboratories. Its brands include Thermo Scientific, Applied Biosystems, Invitrogen, Fisher Scientific, Unity Lab Services and Patheon.
“The presence of a company of this magnitude is greatly appreciated and adds another world-class organization to a significant industrial lineup in our area,” said Mebane Mayor Ed Hooks. “The investment in our economy and the job opportunities for highly skilled employees will undoubtedly have a major impact and provide great opportunities for our citizens.”
Renee Price, chair of the Orange County Board of Commissioners, said, “Orange County strives to encourage and support economic development in our county, and we particularly welcome businesses that offer 21st-century jobs with good salaries and career opportunities for our residents.”
(C) N.C. Biotech Center