Newsroom

TERRE HAUTE — California-based NantWorks announced Tuesday it will locate a new pharmaceutical manufacturing plant on former Pfizer Inc. property south of Terre Haute, creating up to 234 new jobs by 2016.

The company said it will invest $120 million over the next five years to redevelop the former Pfizer facility on 211 acres, after gaining manufacturing process approval from the federal Department of Food and Drug Administration.

The new facility, called NantWorks Terre Haute LLC and expected to be operational in 2016 pending FDA approval, would produce critical care injectable and oncological drugs.

The company would have a payroll of $12 million when fully operational in 2016, making the average salary $51,000 a year for the 234 employees.

The Vigo County Redevelopment Commission opened the company's proposal on Tuesday and took it under advisement. The commission will meet by the end of the week for a formal acceptance, following a legal review.

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. offered NantWorks LLC up to $2 million in conditional tax credits and up to $100,000 in training grants based on the company's job creation plans. These tax credits are performance-based, meaning until workers are hired, the company is not eligible to claim incentives.

Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong is chairman and CEO of NantWorks LLC. His net worth is estimated at $7 billion, which he made by selling two drug companies within the past three years, according to Forbes.com. He also holds a 4.5-percent minority ownership in the Los Angeles Lakers.

"As a country, we need to develop and enhance our capabilities to manufacture injectable and next generation drugs in America," Soon-Shiong said in a statement. "This plant [in Vigo County] is a sign of NantWorks' commitment to that objective. I am delighted to share in the vision of Governor Daniels and the Indiana Economic Development Corporation and I am excited to be getting back into the injectable biopharmaceutical industry."

In a breakdown under its proposal for starting operations, the company would have:

• 21 validation engineers with estimated annual salaries of $82,000 to $150,000

• 19 quality and 14 production engineers with salaries from $65,000 to $150,000

• Six facilities/logistics positions ranging from $64,000 to $80,000

• Two technology transfer positions ranging from $75,000 to $100,000 and

• 25 IT tech maintenance positions ranging from $80,000 to $120,000 per year

Hourly positions include:

• 22 engineering/validation/maintenance positions ranging from $23 to $32 per hour

• 35 quality positions ranging from $16 to $20 per hour

• 60 production positions ranging from $19 to $22 an hour

• 26 facility/logistic positions ranging from $13 to $15 per hour and

• Four technology transfer positions ranging from $18 to $22 per hour

The Vigo County Redevelopment Commission had advertised the former Pfizer property for $6.5 million, as required by law, as it is the average of two independent appraisals of the property. However, the Redevelopment Commission is selling the land for $1 to NantWorks, based on the company's $120 million investment over five years, said Steve Witt, president of the Terre Haute Economic Development Corp.

However, for any employee below the 234 number stated for employment by the end of 2016, the company must pay back $5,128 per employee to the Redevelopment Commission, Witt said. If nothing happens at the site, the company must pay the Redevelopment Commission $1.2 million, Witt said.

In addition, NantWorks Terre Haute LLC will seek real and personal property tax abatements for its new facility from the county. Vigo County will also pay $160,000 to extend a 12-inch water line to the new manufacturing site, Witt said.

The site is a rectangular area, located on Pfizer's former Exubera plant in what is now designated at the Vigo County Industrial Park II, about seven miles south of Terre Haute. Starting from the intersection of Dallas and Carlisle roads, the property extends south to the former Pfizer 606 laboratory building, then west to the boundary of the former Pfizer Exubera plant next to a Danisco plant, then north to Carlisle Road, then back east to Dallas Road.

NantWorks plans to convert the site to a pharmaceutical manufacturing for drug compounding, aseptic and terminally sterilized drug product filing, lyophillization, laboratory operations, product development, research, process engineering and clean room operations.

"FDA approval is a big part of this," Jerry Webb, vice president of quality operations for NantWorks LLC and general manager of NantWorks Terre Haute LLC, said Tuesday after the commission's meeting at the Vigo County Annex.

"The Exubera facility was built for a different type of finished dosage formula than what we are intending to manufacture. They build for an inhaler, so a lot of the specific equipment for that has been taken out of the building," Webb said.

"Some of the basic systems are there, so we are very excited about that, but we have to redevelop the building now to a different pharmaceutical operational strategy," Webb said.

"That redevelopment will take a couple of years because we have to validate all of that equipment. It is part of the preparation for submission to the FDA, then there is a waiting period for the first product," Webb said.

Initially, some activity at the site will include piping, putting up walls, then specialty equipment will be purchased and installed, as part of the FDA approval. Initially, most workers will be engineers, as many as 30, as part of the FDA validation work.

The product to be manufactured includes pre-filled syringes (with syringes shipped in and then filled with medical product), vials and possibly cartridges. The products would be for critical care and oncological care for cancer treatment. Some products would be generic while others would be proprietary to NantWorks, Webb said.

Witt said he first learned of NantWorks' interest in mid-September. Witt sent information on the former Pfizer site, which NantWorks had just learned of 12 hours earlier. The company contacted Witt the next day to see the former Pfizer property.

"This has been one of our faster projects," Witt said

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Tribune-Star