Prince William County added another biotechnology company to its growing portfolio Tuesday, one more step toward its goal of creating a life sciences employment center.
County supervisors approved waiving $120,000 in fees for a new manufacturing facility and headquarters for Mediatech Inc. The company has committed to building up to a 110,000-square-foot building on 10 acres at the county's Innovation industrial park. The company currently leases space in Herndon.
The $10 million project will bring a projected 200 jobs to the area. The company decided on Prince William after considering sites in North Carolina and Maryland.
"We do appreciate the efforts to keep biotech in Virginia and encourage others to come," said Mediatech President Jim DeOlden. "We are very excited and enthusiastic about coming to Prince William."
The decision was made easier by a $400,000 grant from an economic development fund controlled by Virginia Gov. Mark R. Warner (D). In addition to waiving some of the development fees, the county will put the project on a 30-day fast-track approval process.
DeOlden said he was pleased with the incentive package. "We got more than our fair share," he said.
The privately held, 20-year-old company makes solutions used to culture cells. Mediatech customers, including medical schools and biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, use its products in research to develop more effective ways to treat human and animal diseases, such as diabetes.
Mediatech will join a planned Eli Lilly and Co. plant as well as George Mason University, American Type Culture Collection and others at Innovation, just west of the Manassas city line.
"This is very important to continue our momentum," said Martin J. Briley, the county's economic development director. "We are relatively quickly becoming a life sciences center."
County economic development officials say Eli Lilly is still committed to build in Prince William. Lilly officials have caused some nervousness by recently delaying major construction at the site.
Lilly still plans to invest $425 million and employ more than 700 people on the 120-acre site , company spokeswoman Patti Tracy said. The project was announced in May 2002. The plant was to have opened in late 2005 and been fully operational in 2007. Now construction won't begin until 2005, the company said.
"It is definitely coming; it's just a matter of time," said board Chairman Sean T. Connaughton (R), who said he has been personally reassured by the company's chief executive. Connaughton said it is a matter of "ensuring that the necessary capital and timing for production is in sync."
Briley said the company is still continuing to hire and is expanding its temporary quarters at the site.
Connaughton said the Mediatech move is another step in creating a bandwagon effect in the fast-growing biotechnology industry. He pointed to a series of speculative office buildings being developed nearby that he said would be marketed to smaller biotech companies and start-ups.