MedImmune buys 2 sites in Frederick Move all but ensures that it will build $50 million plant there

Cleveland was a rival

Plant may employ 150, with average salary of $60,000 a year

August 03, 1996|By Mark Guidera | Mark Guidera,SUN STAFF

MedImmune Inc., a Gaithersburg biotechnology company, has purchased 26 acres of vacant land in a Frederick County high-technology park, a move that all but ensures the company will build a $50 million manufacturing plant there instead of Cleveland.

"This is a very significant move on their part. We're confident now they're coming here," said James Singleton, acting director for the Frederick County Economic Development Commission.

"We've been waiting a long time for this."

Mark Kaufmann, a spokesman for MedImmune, said the company purchased the Frederick County property Wednesday for $1.46 million.

He said company executives were declining to comment on MedImmune's plans for the land until Aug. 12, when it expects to hold a news conference to announce its intentions.

Singleton said the property MedImmune bought is in Center Park in Frederick, near Interstate 70. The park has several tenants, including Solarex, a solar energy equipment company.

MedImmune, he said, bought two properties, a 15-acre site and an 11-acre site, across the street from one another.

Kaufmann said the 65,000-square-foot manufacturing plant, if built on the property, would occupy the larger parcel. The smaller parcel was bought in case the company decides to move its research and office facility from Gaithersburg, he said.

Kaufmann said the company wants to get construction launched on a manufacturing plant in the next several weeks and to have it completed by the end of 1997.

The Food and Drug Administration would then have to approve the plant for manufacturing drugs, which could take an additional year.

Until then, MedImmune's two approved drugs, CytoGam, a drug that aids kidney transplant patients, and RespiGam, which fights a viral lung infection of infants, will be made by contract manufacturers.

Initially, the new plant would have about 150 employees earning an average of $60,000 annually, said Singleton.

Kaufmann said MedImmune has not bought any property near Cleveland. That city, along with the Ohio Legislature, tried to lure the MedImmune manufacturing plant with a multimillion-dollar incentive package.

A spokeswoman for the Greater Cleveland Growth Association, which helped structure the Ohio incentive package, said the group had not heard from MedImmune and declined to comment further.

That package -- and the ensuing threat that the company might move its research division and headquarters to Cleveland -- spurred Frederick and Maryland legislators and economic development officials in March to put together $13 million in incentives to keep MedImmune in Maryland.

The incentives Maryland offered included a $4 million loan from the state's Sunny Day fund, which can be used to attract or retain Maryland jobs; a $5 million state-insured taxable bond; and a $2.8 million loan from another state program. Frederick County and city chipped in $2.8 million in bonds for the project.

Pub Date: 8/03/96

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