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Pfizer to build a $500M gene-therapy facility in Sanford

Posted December 4, 2019 5:00 a.m. EST

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced plans for a state-of-the-art gene therapy manufacturing facility in Sanford as part of the company's ongoing investment in the area. (shmeljov/Big Stock Photo)

This article was written for our sponsor, the Sanford Area Growth Alliance.

It's not every day a major corporation decides to invest half a billion dollars in your community, but that's what happened for the town of Sanford in August.

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced plans for a state-of-the-art gene therapy manufacturing facility in Sanford as part of the company's ongoing investment in the area. Pfizer already has approximately 650 employees in Sanford, and the new facility is expected to add around 300 new jobs to the area.

"This investment will further strengthen Pfizer's leadership in gene therapy manufacturing technology," said Mike McDermott, president of Pfizer Global Supply, in a press release. "The expansion of the Sanford site is expected to create hundreds of highly skilled jobs which would increase Sanford's high-tech manufacturing environment and is part of our overall plan to invest approximately $5 billion in U.S.-based capital projects over the next several years."

The investment is just the next step in a long history of life science successes in the area. That history has primed Sanford to be a major player in the life sciences field for years to come.

"It speaks to the future of manufacturing realm here in Sanford," said Sanford Area Growth Alliance Existing Industry Development Manager Jimmy Randolph. "It's sure to attract other folks active in that space because of the significant life sciences activity in the Research Triangle area and Sanford is so proximate to that facility. It's a wonderful affirmation of the activity we've been engaged in."

Pfizer has locations across the globe, but ultimately, Sanford was able to provide a proven workforce, dedicated acreage, and a community college educating potential future employees in life sciences and manufacturing to close the deal.

Such a heavy investment means positive changes for the community and other companies that call Sanford home.

"Beyond the obvious things, I think what this will do is be a catalyst for further growth," Randolph said. "If you look at Sanford on the map, I think you can expect to see the rate of population growth and additional investment from an industrial manufacturing standpoint. Folks are already contacting us about additional space near the campus."

The continued investment in Sanford has resulted in quality of life improvements for residents ranging from new charter schools to the recently opened splash pad to the renovated downtown. All of this stems from a plan put in place nearly a decade ago to revitalize Sanford and continue to attract modern businesses and create a kind of economic development snowball effect, with improvements across many community aspects.

The Pfizer investment marks a major milestone for Sanford, but local leadership and SAGA board members are confident the growth will continue at a manageable pace. With their strong history of manufacturing, Sanford and Lee County remains open for business with an engaged community that's excited to see what happens next.

"The reality is, [we] are fairly far sighted," Randolph said. "The community around Sanford has a very favorable attitude toward manufacturing. I can't imagine a better place to live or work. The businesses that make it that way — it really is a testament to the character of the citizens of this community."

This article was written for our sponsor, the Sanford Area Growth Alliance.

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