Hundreds of jobs coming to Petersburg pharmaceutical plant

Hundreds of jobs coming to Petersburg pharmaceutical plant

PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) - A pharmaceutical plant scheduled to close later this year in Petersburg is instead getting new life and bringing hundreds of new jobs to the city.

A Chinese company, UniTao Pharmaceuticals, bought the Boehringer Ingelheim plant and plans to invest $22.5 million and bring 376 new jobs as part of the purchase, Governor Terry McAuliffe announced Thursday. Boehringer Ingelheim last year

by the end of 2014, which would have affected 240 employees. UniTao manufactures pharmaceutical ingredients and was looking for an existing manufacturing facility in the U.S. to expand its global market share.

"This project will have a tremendous impact in the City of Petersburg and the surrounding region," said Gov. McAuliffe. "UniTao's new manufacturing operation in the Commonwealth is another milestone in building a new Virginia economy and builds on Virginia's longstanding and growing relationship with China.”

Virginia was able to beat out sites in China and California for the project, which the governor says came out of meetings during a recent trip to Shanghai.

“Our expansion to Virginia underscores our commitment to meeting the demands of our global customers as efficiently as possible,” said Tao Ye, chief executive officer for UniTao Pharmaceuticals. “The former Boehringer Ingelheim facility, the region's accessibility and its skilled workforce will enable us to start operations quickly and better meet marketplace demands in the U.S. and elsewhere."

Governor McAuliffe approved a $1 million grant from the Governor's Opportunity Fund to assist Petersburg with the project, according to the governor's office. Funding and services to support the company's employee training activities will be provided through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program. The company will also be eligible to receive a Major Business Facility Job Tax Credit and sales and use tax exemptions on manufacturing equipment.

"Today's announcement by Governor McAuliffe and UniTao of hundreds of jobs and a multimillion dollar investment is a home run for the City of Petersburg, our local and regional economy and our residents,” said Brian A. Moore, Mayor of Petersburg. “The City is extremely pleased that UniTao has chosen this great city as a home for their operations. This will be a great driver to assist us with our continued plans of investment and growth.”

Boehringer Ingleheim makes drugs that fight AIDS and over the counter medicine and has been an employer in Petersburg for decades. Plans to close the factory meant 240 employees would be out of a job and a loss of $385,000 in property tax revenue for the city. The company was

one of the top five employers

in Petersburg with three plants supporting one of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies.

Plans to close one of the plants, known as Synthesis 1, were announced in May. At the time, officials said only 58 jobs would be lost and the revenue lost to the city would be minimal. The building was constructed in 1979, and the company's president cited the plant's age as one reason for its closure.

As recently as 2009, Boehringer Ingelheim was in expansion mode, creating a new Petersburg factory and adding 150 jobs.

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