Biotech company adding 650 new jobs

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A start-up company is announcing an expansion that will bring more than 650 new jobs.

Health Diagnostics Laboratory (HDL) in the Virginia BioTechnology Research Park is expanding its Jackson Ward offices and adding the new jobs.

The $68 million expansion will come in two stages, with construction and hiring for phase one to begin early next year.

HDL had only eleven employees less than two years ago. Now it has more than 350 with 650 more on the way.

It's one of the success stories inside the Virginia Bio-Technology Research Park. Soon it will take over another building in the park.

"We were getting pushed into a corner and running out of space very quickly," said HDL CEO Tonya Mallory. "We had to make the decision in a very short period of time whether to relocate or stay in Richmond."

The City made it worth the company's while to stay in Richmond with a $1.5 million tax incentive.

The City thinks it'll get that money back and then some. The 650 new jobs are projected to bring more than $68 million worth of investments in building redevelopment and new equipment.

"It's a great story," said Lee Downey, director of Economic and Community Development for the City of Richmond. "It's a success story, and it's a story that happened here in Richmond."

The company works with physicians, analyzing blood samples from patients suffering from cardiovascular diseases.

Just about anyone will be qualified for one of these new jobs. HDL will be hiring people with a high school diploma all the way up to a PhD.

City leaders praise Tuesday's announcement as proof Richmond is making a name for itself as a biotech city.

"We are coming on the map," said Virginia BioTechnology Research Park President and CEO Robert Skunda. "Through exciting companies like HDL, our name is getting out there and we are able to compete globally."

The City Council still has to approve the incentive package offered to keep these jobs in Richmond.

The average salary at HDL is $67,000 a year. The company expects that to go up with these new jobs - most of these new jobs will be in its laboratory.

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