Durham County, State Officials Announce Expansion by AveXis, Inc., in RTP
Additional $60M investment will add 200 more jobs
Durham, NC – Durham County Government played a pivotal role in an official announcement at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center on Monday, February 18, 2019, where gene therapy company AveXis, Inc., and the North Carolina Department of Commerce announced a doubling of the expansion of AveXis’ manufacturing center in Durham County. The $60-million expansion will bring an additional 200 jobs that offer a spectrum of employment opportunities that exceed the County’s average pay. AveXis, which develops treatments for rare and life-threatening neurological diseases, previously announced it would expand in May 2018 and create 200 jobs with a $55-million investment at its facility located inside Research Triangle Park.
AveXis, headquartered in Bannockburn, Ill., and owned by Swiss drugmaker Novartis, is working on gene therapy treatments for the No. 1 genetic cause of infant mortality, Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Their treatment, AVXS-101 or ZOLGENSMA©, received Breakthrough Therapy designation and has been granted Priority Review by the Federal Drug Administration, with regulatory action expected in May 2019.
“Durham County is excited to be a partner in this project,” Board of County Commissioners Chair Wendy Jacobs said. “We are contributing $750,000 toward the expansion of AveXis – a growing company at RTP that does such important work. We are also thrilled about the great jobs created for Durham, jobs that can change people’s lives. More than 25 percent of these new good-paying jobs are positions that do not require advanced degrees – an important priority for the BOCC.”
The average pay for jobs created will be $72,952, which is higher than the County’s average wage of $68,731. Positions created will include manufacturing, operations, analysts, engineers and scientists. The manufacturing jobs will average $77,917, which is more than $30,000 more than the County’s average comparable starting wage of $45,632. Thirty-three of the jobs will pay an average starting wage of $46,000 for warehouse jobs, more than double Durham County’s comparable average starting pay. The 400 total new employees are expected to be hired by 2022.
This expansion will be facilitated by a Job Development Investment Grant (JDIG) approved by the North Carolina Economic Investment Committee on Monday. Over the course of the 12-year term of the grant, the project will grow the state’s economy by an estimated $1.3 billion, according to N.C. Governor Roy Cooper’s office. Over the 12 years, the JDIG agreement authorizes the potential reimbursement to AveXis of $1,447,000 using a formula that takes into account new tax revenues generated by the new jobs.
“North Carolina’s expertise in the life sciences continues to lead the nation,” said Governor Cooper in a release. “Pioneering companies like AveXis keep our state at the forefront of promising new approaches like gene therapy, which opens up new ways for us to tackle tough diseases.”
AveXis’ commitment to Durham County was a large factor in Durham County Government’s decision to support the company’s expansion efforts, Jacobs said.
“AveXis has a commitment to work with Durham County stakeholders to try to ensure that County residents know about these jobs, are prepared for these jobs and are in a pipeline for these great jobs,” Jacobs said. “AveXis wants to work directly with the teachers and students at Durham Tech and Durham Public Schools Career and Technical Education Program. They want to collaborate with the Brite Center at NCCU. They want to partner directly with the N.C. Works Center and local workforce development non-profits to host job fairs. AveXis wants to get directly involved with minority purchasing efforts.
Jacobs was among speakers at the event. Other speakers at the celebration included Eamon Fitzmaurice, AveXis Plant Controller, Geoff Durham, President and CEO, Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce and N.C. Commerce Secretary Anthony Copeland. County Manager Wendell Davis, N.C. Senator Mike Woodard and Durham County Economic Development Officer Andy Miracle were also in attendance.