Emergent plans to add jobs, move to Gaithersburg from Rockville -- Gazette.Net


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Rockville biotechnology company Emergent BioSolutions plans to buy a Gaithersburg building and move its 112 employees at its headquarters there, as well as add 133 jobs over the next five years, executives said Monday.

As part of the deal, the Gaithersburg City Council was expected to consider awarding a $250,000 economic development grant to Emergent during its meeting Monday evening.

Over the past year, Emergent has conducted a search for new headquarters throughout the region, including Northern Virginia, said Tracey Schmitt, a company spokeswoman. The lease on Research Boulevard expires in early 2015, and the company plans to move out by then to the Gaithersburg building at 400 Professional Drive, contingent upon closing, she said.

The new jobs will be added in Gaithersburg, where Emergent already has a research and development facility at 300 Professional Drive with 123 employees that it has owned since 2009, she said. That building is adjacent to the one the company is targeting for its new base.

“The Gaithersburg property made sense for a multitude of reasons,” Schmitt said. “It allows for us to consolidate operations, while accommodating for further growth. A lot of our employees live in the area. In addition, we believe having two adjacent buildings provides the opportunity to create a campus-like environment.”

Emergent anticipates closing “in the near future,” and it should take from nine to 12 months to complete the move to Gaithersburg upon closing, she said.

Corporate relocations of this size and quality “don’t come every day,” said Tom Lonergan, city of Gaithersburg director of economic development. He described the competition between cities and entities within Montgomery County for business headquarters as “fierce, but friendly.”

“It’s a tenants’ market right now,” Lonergan said. “There is a lot of space in the county and region.”

Gaithersburg has enticed businesses to move from Rockville before, such as nonprofit health care network Adventist HealthCare in April. Rockville has attracted companies from Gaithersburg in turn, such as Meso Scale Discovery, which analyzes biological measurements. Rockville also landed the headquarters of Choice Hotels, formerly of Silver Spring, in April.

The grant would be the first from Gaithersburg for Emergent. And it would be only the fifth such incentive provided from the city’s Economic Development Opportunities Fund, Lonergan said. Others have been made to Adventist HealthCare, biotech Novavax, food services company Sodexo and e-commerce business GXS.

Lonergan said his staff had done “a lot of due diligence” on Emergent in the past several months, and he believed the general consensus among Gaithersburg officials was that the deal is a “big win.”

Emergent is also planning to open a new facility in Lansing, Mich., to expand production of BioThrax, its FDA-licensed anthrax vaccine. The company anticipates submitting relevant supplemental license application forms required by the FDA in late 2014 or early 2015, with the facility opening in “due course thereafter,” Schmitt said.

Emergent, which has products combating tuberculosis, cancer and autoimmune disorders besides anthrax, already has a facility in Lansing, as well as a manufacturing plant in Baltimore. The business has about 900 employees spread over a dozen sites worldwide.

Emergent’s predecessor company, BioPort Corp., formed in 1998, and did what relatively few biotechs do – turn a profit for an entire year within four years of forming. Last year, the company, which went public in 2006, saw net income rise 2 percent to $23.5 million from 2011. In the first six months this year, net income was $2.4 million, up from $800,000 in the first half of 2012.

Adventist signs lease for Clarksburg medical office

Adventist HealthCare has leased space at Clarksburg Village Center for a new facility with primary care and other medical services, officials said in a statement on Monday. The center, developed by Elm Street Development and leased by NVRetail, is projected to open in about a year.

The Clarksburg site will include primary care, pediatric, obstetrics and gynecology and outpatient rehabilitation services. Adventist has an emergency center in Germantown, and Shady Grove Adventist Hospital is in Rockville.

A Harris Teeter grocery store is expected to open at Clarksburg Village Center in November.

Holy Cross Hospital plans to open a 237,000-square-foot hospital in Germantown by mid-2014 offering medical, surgical, obstetric, emergency and psychiatric care.

kshay@gazette.net