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The biopharmaceutical firm has chosen Rhode Island as the site of its next-generation biomanufacturing plant, which will offer flexibility, speed, and efficiency.
On April 10, 2018, Amgen announced plans to build a next-generation biomanufacturing plant at its campus in West Greenwich, RI. The new, $160-million plant will employ the company’s next-generation biomanufacturing capabilities and manufacture products for the US and global markets. The project will be supported by incentives from Rhode Island’s economic development programs, according to an announcement from the Governor of Rhode Island’s office.
According to Amgen, a next-generation biomanufacturing plant incorporates multiple innovative technologies into a single facility. As a result, the plant is built in half the construction time and with approximately one-half the operating cost of a traditional plant, the company reports. Next-generation biomanufacturing plants require a smaller manufacturing footprint and offer greater environmental benefits, including reduced consumption of water and energy and lower levels of carbon emissions, according to the company.
"Amgen has three decades of experience in biologics manufacturing, and we are proud of our track record of providing a reliable supply of high-quality medicines for patients around the world," said Esteban Santos, executive vice president of Operations at Amgen, in a company press release. "We are pleased to build the first commercial scale, next-generation biomanufacturing plant in the [United States], leveraging Amgen's capabilities and incorporating the latest technologies."
The company conducted a comprehensive evaluation of global locations to select the proper site. Following recent US federal tax reform, which provides company incentives to invest in innovation and advanced technologies, Amgen decided to locate the new plant in the US and selected Rhode Island because of the historical success of the already-established Amgen West Greenwich manufacturing facility, the capabilities and workforce at that facility, the quality of living for staff, and the potential for growth.
The new biomanufacturing plant will be built on the current Amgen Rhode Island 75-acre campus and is expected to create approximately 150 additional manufacturing positions and approximately 200 construction and validation jobs. The company currently employs 625 full-time employees in Rhode Island, according to the Governor’s office.
“I am thrilled that Amgen is planning to expand and bring new, highly skilled jobs to Rhode Island and further enhance the State’s life sciences community and manufacturing expertise,” said Governor Gina M. Raimondo, in a press release issued from the Governor’s office. “We welcome Amgen’s future healthcare advancements for patients around the world that will come from this new biomanufacturing plant.”
Amgen opened its first next-generation biomanufacturing plant in Singapore in 2014. The company reports that this type of plant offers a highly flexible, modular design that can be replicated in future facilities and which enables Amgen to increase production capabilities reliably with greater speed, productivity, and flexibility. The equipment within the plant is portable, smaller, and disposable, which provides greater flexibility and speed when manufacturing different medicines simultaneously. This design eliminates costly and complex retrofitting inherent in standard facilities and allows the company to respond to changing demands with better agility, which would ultimately impact the speed at which a medicine is available for patients.
"We are excited that Amgen Rhode Island was chosen as the location to build the new biomanufacturing plant," said Tia Bush, vice president of Operations at Amgen Rhode Island, in the Governor’s office press release. "It is a testament to our skilled, dedicated workforce and Amgen's continued presence in Rhode Island, which will enable ongoing collaborations with local academic institutions and the broader Rhode Island community."
The existing Amgen Rhode Island plant was licensed by FDA in September 2005 and houses one of the world's largest mammalian protein manufacturing facilities, according to the company. The facility manufactures commercial and clinical bulk drug substance. Amgen has invested more than $1.5 billion in its Rhode Island site, adding more than 500,000 square feet of manufacturing, utility, administrative, and laboratory space to the campus.
Since 2004, the Amgen Foundation has committed over $4.8 million to support science education and community programs in Rhode Island.
On April 10, 2018, the board of the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation approved tax credits through the Rebuild Rhode Island tax credit program and the Qualified Jobs Incentive Act to support this project. The value of the Rebuild Rhode Island Tax Credit is $2.2 million.
Further, there is potential for Amgen to receive an additional $1.25 million upon meeting established performance metrics. The estimated value of the Qualified Jobs tax credits, which are only paid out after jobs are created and employees have paid income tax for a full year, is $600,000 per year over 10 years. The company will also be eligible for a sales tax rebate on construction materials.
“Amgen is a global company with options,” said Rhode Island Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor in the Governor’s office press release. “Rhode Island competed to be the location for the company’s ‘next generation’ biomanufacturing facility, and we were successful because of our skilled talent, ideal location, and potent incentives. This is the 24th company that has expanded or landed in the Ocean State under Governor Raimondo’s leadership. Our state has momentum and we must continue our efforts until all Rhode Islanders feel the economic progress we are achieving.”
Twenty-four companies have relocated to Rhode Island or expanded their existing Rhode Island operations using the Qualified Jobs Tax Credit Program. The state’s real estate investment programs are investing in 32 development projects that are creating approximately 6000 construction jobs and injecting more than $1 billion dollars of investment into Rhode Island.