Agilent Technologies said Monday that it would make a $725 million investment at its Frederick manufacturing plant, doubling capacity there and paving the way for an additional 160 new hires.
The biotech company, based in Santa Clara, Calif., currently employs about 700 people in Weld County, where it manufactures therapeutic oligonucleotides, also called “oligos.” The components, consisting of DNA and RNA, are increasingly being used in drugs to treat a number of health conditions, from cardiovascular disease to cancers.
“Agilent’s presence in Colorado is an important element of our focus on supporting high-growth businesses and the customers we serve,” said Mike McMullen, Agilent president and CEO, in a press release. “The resources, talent, and support we have in the state have helped, and will continue to help us achieve our long-term growth objectives.”
The market for therapeutic oligos, currently at $1 billion, is expected to reach $2.4 billion in 2027, Agilent said. To meet that demand, the company plans to add two new manufacturing lines in Frederick to create SiRNA, antisense and CRISPER guide RNA molecules by 2026. Agilent will construct two new buildings linked by a sky bridge to house the new manufacturing lines.
In November, the Colorado Economic Development Commission approved $1.79 million in Strategic Fund incentives for Project Olive, the codename Agilent used at the time. Project Olive said it was looking to invest $784 million and create 275 new jobs paying an average annual wage of $89,094.
Manufacturing jobs, research and development chemists, facilities and maintenance engineers, supply chain managers and quality assurance and control specialists were among the positions expected to be created. Frederick was competing with Raleigh, N.C., for the new manufacturing lines, and together with Weld County, agreed to provide $9.4 million in local incentives.
“The relationship that Agilent Technologies has developed with the Town of Frederick and our network of local partners was key to the success of this impactful expansion of the Northern Colorado bioscience concentration. It made all the difference in achieving success in a complex process,” said Bill Meier, chairman of Upstate Colorado Economic Development, the economic development arm of Weld and Larimer counties.
Given that the capital investment will be about $59 million less and 115 fewer jobs than described in November, the state’s award, which is performance-based, will likely be adjusted downward. Weld County and Frederick said in their release they will provide the $9.4 million originally offered. The new jobs will pay an average annual wage exceeding $100,000, more than the average originally stated.
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