Amgen picks RI for new $160M state-of-the-art plant

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Amgen, Inc._202063

Biotech firm Amgen plans to expand its footprint in Rhode Island by building what it describes as “a new state-of-the-art next-generation biomanufacturing plant” at its 75-acre campus in West Greenwich, officials said Tuesday.

Amgen executives and Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo’s office made the joint announcement following a meeting of the R.I. Commerce Corporation, whose board approved approximately $9.5 million in tax credits to help fund the $160-million project. The agency said an independent analysis shows the deal will still be revenue-positive for the state.

“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,” Raimondo said in a statement. Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor said it was the 24th company relocation or expansion to use the economic-development programs championed by the governor.

Amgen said it scouted locations worldwide for the new plant. “Rhode Island was selected based on the historical success of the Amgen West Greenwich manufacturing facility, its capabilities and talented workforce, and quality of living for staff and potential to grow,” the company said. The new federal tax law also provides incentives to invest in the U.S., Amgen said.

Amgen currently has 625 full-time employees in Rhode Island, down significantly from its peak in the mid-2000s. The new plant will employ about 150 additional workers in “highly-skilled manufacturing positions,” the California-based company said. Raimondo said that number could rise to 300 workers over time.

“We are excited that Amgen Rhode Island was chosen as the location to build the new biomanufacturing plant,” Tia Bush, vice president of operations at the company’s Rhode Island campus, said in a statement. “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.”

Amgen’s existing Rhode Island plant encompasses more than 500,000 square feet of manufacturing, lab and office space. The company says it has invested more than $1.5 billion over the years in the facility, which was first licensed by the FDA in 2005. Amgen inherited the West Greenwich site when it purchased Immunex in 2001.

The new plant “incorporates multiple innovative technologies into a single facility, and therefore is built in half the construction time with approximately one half of the operating cost of a traditional plant,” according to Amgen. “Next-generation biomanufacturing plants require a smaller manufacturing footprint and offer greater environmental benefits.” The company said it already has a similar plant in Singapore.

Reuters reporter Deena Beasley described the new design as “part of the company’s ongoing efforts to control costs. Because it will be built next to an existing plant, it will cost a little more than half the $300 million estimated by the company in January.”

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com. He is a weekly panelist on Newsmakers and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook

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