By Cecilia Kang
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Covance, a drug manufacturing services firm in Princeton, N.J., yesterday announced plans to build a testing facility in Prince William County that would bring in 550 jobs and an investment of $175 million, boosting the county's efforts to create a high-tech hub.
The new facility will use a partially completed manufacturing plant that the Indianapolis pharmaceutical firm Eli Lilly abandoned in January. Covance bought the plant from Lilly and said it plans to expand incrementally on the 47-acre site in the Innovation at Prince William business park on the county's western edge.
Covance said the 410,000-square-foot facility will focus on safety, testing and analysis services. It would be considerably larger than the 300,000 square-foot insulin manufacturing plant that Lilly had planned.
"It's a good fit, and there is plenty of land to expand in the future," said Wendel Barr, senior vice president.
Eli Lilly's decision to leave because of a restructuring of global operations had been a setback in the county's ambitious plans for its 1,100-acre business park. Yet many of the same factors that attracted Lilly to the county also lured Covance.
The company received $3.7 million in state and county incentives. Unlike crowded Fairfax County, Prince William offered larger parcels of land at lower prices.
Local leaders hailed the deal as an important step forward for the county's economic ambitions.
"This is phenomenal news. These are research-and-development jobs in a laboratory -- a sign that the county continues to attract the best and the brightest, and it is continuing to draw companies in targeted industries," said Corey Stewart, chairman of the Prince William Board of Supervisors.
Covance said it would move 450 employees from its two locations in Fairfax County by 2011 and that it plans to hire another 100 workers by 2014. The firm had weighed proposals from Arizona and Maryland but decided to keep and expand its operations in Virginia because of the incentives and its desire to minimize any disruption to its workforce.
"Continuity is key, and we have gotten great support from Fairfax and the state. So when we put all that together and marry opportunity with location, it was at the end of day an easy decision to make that call," Barr said.
The workforce will include technicians, scientists, veterinarians, engineers and administrative staff. The move will make Covance one of the county's largest employers, after Micron Technology, which has 1,800 employees; Lockheed Martin, with 1,200 workers; and General Dynamics with nearly 600.
Barr said the company plans to forge ties with the business park's anchor tenants, including the George Mason University life sciences campus and American Type Culture Collection.
Earlier this month, Advion Biosciences, a bioanalytical service provider based in Ithaca, N.Y., announced plans to lease 10,000 square feet of office space in the business park, bringing 10 jobs and $1 million in investment.