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Pharmaceutical firm seeks city incentives to build $149M+ plant in Lake Nona

Pharmaceutical firm seeks city incentives to build $149M+ plant in Lake Nona
Outlined in red is Lake Nona's Parcel 19b, south of Laureate Boulevard and the Sanford Burnham Institute. A portion of Parcel 19b is under contract for development by Amicus Biologics for a new pharmaceutical manufacturing facility. (Orange County Property Appraiser / staff edit)

An affiliate of New Jersey-based Amicus Therapeutics, one of the world's largest biopharmaceutical companies, is seeking up to $3.99 million in city and state economic incentives to build a manufacturing facility in Lake Nona's Medical City, an investment it tells city staff would be at least $148.85 million.

Amicus Biologics, Inc., is a market leader in developing advanced therapies to treat a range of rare and orphan human diseases. The company is proposing to build Orlando's first biologic drug substance manufacturing plant with associated research and development, according to documents filed with the city and provided to City Council members ahead of their Aug. 20 meeting.

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"We believe it is a strategic imperative to have our own biologics manufacturing facility and we have been assessing different locations in the U.S. for this plant," Andrew Faughnan, associate director of investor relations, told GrowthSpotter on Tuesday. "Orlando is one of the sites we are considering, and the availability of tax and other incentives is an important factor in our ultimate site selection decision."

The project would be a 190,690-square-foot plant and research facility in Lake Nona on "Parcel 19b" within the master-planned community's Planned Development zoning, which is 27.1 acres on the southwest corner of Laureate Boulevard and Medical City Drive.

The land is owned by an affiliate of Tavistock Development Company, which declined to comment on how much of the site is under contract.

The site lies directly south of the Sanford Burnham Institute which UCF plans to turn into a cancer research and treatment facility, with the latest progress reported by the Orlando Sentinel on Tuesday. It's also directly west of the site for a new $18 million Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute headquarters building.

Amicus is asking for a Qualified Target Industry (QTI) incentive totaling $1.896 million from the state of Florida, which includes the City of Orlando's 20 percent contribution of $379,200 to be paid over eight years, from 2021/22 through 2028/29.

In addition, the city is proposing to give Amicus a tax rebate of up to 25 percent of the property taxes assessed on the land for up to seven years, from 2020/21 through 2026/27. That maximum annual rebate would be $299,250, and the maximum cumulative rebate over seven years would be $2.094 million.

In exchange, Amicus would create 316 new-to-Florida jobs by the end of 2024, paying an average annual wage of $69,670, which is at least 150 percent of the state's average. The value of benefits available to employees is forecast as $20,901 annually.

The company's total capital investment could range from $148.85 million to $180 million in construction and equipment, per the filing. Amicus has told city staff it is considering other states for the project.

City staff are recommending approval of the QTI request, and said in their council report that 316 new jobs by December 2024 and the prospect of continued job growth and investment beyond that make the tax refund worthwhile.

Orlando's economic development staff also estimated that the project would generate, depending on the level of real estate development, between $989,853 and $1.197 million for the city's general fund.

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Orlando and the state would pay out their QTI tax refund incentives each year only after Amicus meets its job and wage creation obligations.

Rasesh Thakkar, senior managing director of Tavistock Group, declined to comment for GrowthSpotter on the identity of the company targeting Parcel 19b when first asked on Aug. 1. The Amicus master plan was withheld from public record earlier this month by the city, which cited legal privilege for economic development negotiations.

"As home to one of the country's fastest-growing health and life sciences clusters, Lake Nona is a desirable destination for global organizations seeking to join an entrepreneurial and innovative ecosystem," he said. "We look forward to welcoming new collaborators as Medical City continues to expand."

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at bmoser@growthspotter.com, (407) 420-5685 or @bobmoser333. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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