When it comes to the speedy recruitment of biotechnologycompanies and the jobs they bring, Alpha-Beta Technology Inc.is convinced few -- if any -- states could match Rhode Island.
About 10 weeks after sitting down to lunch with Rhode IslandGov. Bruce Sundlun, Alpha-Beta officials announced plansMonday to locate a $31 million manufacturing plant on one offive possible sites in northern Rhode Island.
Financing was key to Alpha-Beta's choice of Rhode Island overMassachusetts, its home state. "Most (biotechnology) companieshave financed their manufacturing plants out of equity," saidSpiros Jamas, president and chief executive officer of theWorcester, Mass.-based company. The company filed in Marchfor an initial public offering of about $30 million but tabledthose plans because of stock market conditions.
Rhode Island agreed to provide $25 million in facility financingfrom state-backed industrial revenue bonds but offered Alpha-Beta no special tax breaks, Jamas said. Alpha-Beta is putting upthe remaining $6 million for the plant that is expected toemploy 200 within three years to produce Betafectin, apotential genetically engineered carbohydrate intended for thetreatment of infections in immune-compromised patients.
Alpha-Beta's 50,000-square-foot production plant should besufficient to meet the company's two-year production plansand could be expanded with relative ease, Jamas said.
While small compared to Genzyme Corp., which has plans for anew corporate headquarters and laboratories in Boston, Alpha-Beta offers a big boost to economically ailing Rhode Island,where the unemployment rate hovers around 9 percent.
"A company like this is very major to us, whereas in anotherstate it might get lost," said Jospeh Paolino Jr., Rhode Island'sdirector of economic development. "In a small state,biotechnology can become a prominent player. It's an industrywe're serious about nurturing." --Ray Potter
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