Bayer HealthCare to invest $100 million to build testing facility, create jobs

Pictured is an artist's rendering of the proposed project site.
Bayer Healthcare, LLC/Courtesy
Pictured is an artist's rendering of the proposed project site.

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Bayer HealthCare will invest $100 million in constructing a new drug-product testing facility at its existing manufacturing site in Berkeley as part of an effort to develop treatments for hemophilia A patients.

To be located near the intersection of Grayson and Seventh streets, the new testing facility will be used to test drugs, such as the two drugs used in hemophilia A treatments, that are in their later stages of development. The facility will be within the boundaries of Bayer’s existing 45-acre site, which is boxed within Grayson and Seventh streets and Dwight Way.

Bayer HealthCare spokesperson Trina Ostrander said the pharmaceutical company is building the testing facility because some of its new drugs, such as the ones for hemophilia A treatment, require new or different technologies that are not currently available at the existing Berkeley campus.

In 1974, Bayer acquired a laboratory site in Berkeley called Cutter Laboratories, which was later established in 1992 as Bayer HealthCare’s global campus for biotechnology.

While the new site will be used to test drugs in laboratories to ensure that they are manufactured safely and effectively, Ostrander said there will be no clinical trials on patients.

“You have to test the product many times before you can put it in a vial and ship it out to the patient,” Ostrander said.

Ostrander also said the construction of the new site will bring the city 325,000 hours worth of construction. According to Ostrander, the construction time is estimated in hours rather than days because different workers, such as pipe fitters and electricians, are expected to go on site and work certain hours on a given day.

Jordan Klein, an economic development coordinator from the city’s Office of Economic Development, said that the only definite increase in city employment would come from hiring construction workers. He added that after the construction is completed, the county may reassess the property’s value, which he said could result in more taxes going back into the city.

According to the city manager’s office, Bayer ranks as fifth-largest employer in the city — behind UC Berkeley, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Alta Bates Summit Medical Center and the city of Berkeley itself — but is the largest private employer, hiring 1,476 individuals.

Klein said that while the site will generate only short-term jobs through construction, the Bayer campus is “not stagnant,” adding that it may continue to be a source of employment in the future. According to Ostrander, Bayer plans on purchasing equipment from local vendors and using local contractors.

Additionally, Klein added that other biotechnology firms are attracted to Bayer and that the new facility could help bring other potential employers into the city.

Contact Lenin Silva at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @LeninSilvaNunez.

Correction(s):
A previous version of this article stated that the county will reassess the property’s value after construction is completed. In fact, the county may reassess the value.

A previous version of this article also attributed Jordan Klein as saying that any increase in city employment from the construction would come solely from hiring construction workers. In fact, Klein said that he did not know whether the project would create new permanent jobs.