Artist's rendering of planned SCHOTT Pharma manufacturing facility in Wilson. Provided / SCHOTT Pharma

A global biotech manufacturer has chosen Wilson as the site of its new facility, the first in the U.S. for a type of syringe used in deep-cold storage and transportation of mRNA medications, Gov. Roy Cooper announced last week.

SCHOTT Pharma USA plans to invest $371 million in the North Carolina project and create 401 jobs, according to the governor’s office press release. The average annual wage is expected to be $57,868, compared to Wilson County’s average wage of $52,619.

The positions will include management, engineering, maintenance, manufacturing associates, quality control, logistics and administration, according to the N.C. Commerce Department.

Groundbreaking for the facility is expected to occur by the end of 2024, with operations projected to start in 2027, Chris Cassidy, president of SCHOTT North America, told Wmforo. The company’s full investment and 401 employee headcount will be reached by 2030, Cassidy said.

SCHOTT Pharma, part of a conglomerate based in Germany, currently operates six manufacturing facilities and a corporate headquarters in the U.S., the governor’s office press release said.

The company provides services and products for the containment and delivery of pharmaceutical drugs.

The Wilson facility will be the first in the country to manufacture prefillable polymer syringes for mRNA medications, according to the company’s press release. The site will also be able to produce glass prefillable syringes for GLP-1 therapies, which can treat diseases such as diabetes or obesity, the press release said.

Wilson pharma site
The campus of the new SCHOTT Pharma plant will be located off interstate 587 east of Wilson. Provided / Wilson Economic Development Council

The project will reduce transportation costs and protect against future shortages of drugs, the press release said, as well as allow the company to triple its contribution of glass and polymer syringes to the U.S. market by 2030.

In response to how the facility could impact pandemic preparedness, Cassidy said over email the project would permanently expand the U.S. supply chain for these syringes and insulate the market from “international shipping disruptions and related cost increases, as occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“On average, more than 25,000 injections per minute are provided to patients worldwide through a product produced by SCHOTT Pharma,” Cassidy wrote.

SCHOTT Pharma chose Wilson, which is about 50 miles east of Raleigh, because of its proximity to the Research Triangle region, which is home to numerous universities, pharmaceutical companies and research institutes, the company spokesperson said.

Other factors included availability of a skilled workforce, access to major highways and ports and an established utility grid and infrastructure, according to the spokesperson.

Wilson is adjacent to Interstate 95 and a short distance north of Interstate 40, making it about a two-hour drive to the Port of Wilmington. Auxiliary interstates 587 and 795 also provide access to Greenville, Goldsboro and the Triangle area.

The new site would also be a good contender as a potential location for SCHOTT Pharma future U.S. expansion, Cassidy said.  

Cindy Ingram, assistant director of the Wilson Economic Development Council, said the site itself was also a draw for the company, as it was already cleared and connected to infrastructure. It’s located east of Wilson along I-587, with enough space for the campus-like model the company wanted, she said.

The company can also draw a regional workforce from both the Research Triangle to the west and Greenville to the east, Ingram said. Wilson has more people who commute in to work there than out, she said, nothing that the area will have adequate housing and infrastructure for new workers.

“Housing, permitting, and house building is on the rise in Wilson,” she said.

Wilson beat out another regional finalist location near Anderson and Greenville, South Carolina, according to N.C. Commerce.

Another factor in SCHOTT Pharma's decision was North Carolina’s incentives package, Cassidy said.

The state approved a Job Development Investment Grant that would use new tax revenue to potentially reimburse the company up to $4.93 million over 12 years if the company meets incremental job creation and investment targets.

The total state incentives are valued at $6.4 million, according to N.C. Commerce.

Because the total award is higher than the grant statute’s general maximum ratio of withholdings in the first five years, the EIC approved a special finding to pass the grant in its meeting on March 18.

“The company stated that an award at that level was critical to North Carolina’s consideration as the project location,” David Rhoades, communications director of N.C. Commerce, told CPP in an email.

Wilson County and the City of Wilson also approved incentives of $8.1 million each to the company over 10 years based on the company meeting commitments around job creation, investment, and wages, Ingram said over email.

The project location is contingent on final real estate negotiations.

Editor's note: This article has been updated to identify SCHOTT Pharma North America President Chris Cassidy as the person who provided information on the company's behalf.

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Grace Vitaglione is a reporter for Wmforo. Send an email to [email protected] to contact her.