Emergent BioSolutions wants to exercise an option to buy 8 acres next to its East Baltimore manufacturing facility for an expansion that eventually could add up to 100 jobs, a company official said.
The Rockville-based biotechnology company bought its facility on East Lombard Street for $7.85 million in 2009, and has invested $50 million there since, Chief Financial Officer Bob Kramer said.
The City Council is slated to vote Wednesday on the sale of the city-owned parcel next to the facility near Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.
Emergent expects to spend between $40 million and $120 million over the next decade on the campus, Kramer said. Driving the future growth is a $220 million federal contract Emergent struck last year to make flu vaccines in the case of a pandemic.
Kramer said there were no immediate plans for construction.
"We think it's important to have more space to be able to expand our presence and footprint in Baltimore long term," he said.
The company is already set to grow that footprint in Baltimore through the $222 million deal it struck last week to buy Canadian biotech company Cangene Corp., which operates a manufacturing facility in West Baltimore.
Emergent bought the facility at 5901 E. Lombard St. from the MdBio Foundation, a private charitable group that advocates for the state biotechnology industry. As part of that deal, Emergent also paid the city $415,000 to buy the 5.3 acres on which the facility sits and an option to buy the neighboring parcel at 6001 E. Lombard St.
Emergent wants to buy the land at a discount. The option provided for sale of the land at a price of $715,691, but the city would provide a credit of up to $245,000 for environmental analysis and remediation. The company has asked for an additional credit worth up to $250,000 if it creates 100 new jobs by the end of 2020.
The parcel is worth $807,000, according to state property records.
About 60 people work at the East Lombard Street facility, where Emergent makes components of a cancer drug called otlertuzumab.
The company is still in the process of evaluating what improvements it might need to comply with the flu vaccine contract, Kramer said. The contract requires that Emergent be able to produce 50 million doses within a matter of months.
The company should have a better understanding of its possible needs for new construction, as well as possible opportunities through the Cangene deal, in the coming months, Kramer said.
The Cangene facility, in the Carroll-Camden industrial area, performs contract manufacturing. It adds the capability for final filling and preparation of biopharmaceutical products — something Emergent now lacks, he said.
That capability could save Emergent money in producing one of its key products: BioThrax, a vaccine for anthrax disease. The company makes the vaccine in large batches in a Michigan facility, but has to hire a third-party manufacturer to fill vials for sale to customers, Kramer said.
Emergent made $13.5 million in profit on $89.1 million in revenue in the quarter that ended Sept. 30. Its stock price has surged since it announced the Cangene deal, from $21.31 on Dec. 11, the day before the deal was announced, to $22.92 at the close Monday.
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