New Pfizer facility to create more than 450 new jobs

Breana Noble
The Detroit News

Pfizer Inc. said Tuesday it plans to build a new $465 million manufacturing facility at its operations south of Kalamazoo, creating more than 450 new jobs.

After the Michigan Strategic Fund approved $11.5 million in incentives for the project, Pfizer said it would build the new 400,000-square-foot sterile drug manufacturing facility at its site in Portage and invest $1 billion in Kalamazoo County over the next six years. The investment is part of the New York City-based pharmaceutical conglomerate's plans to invest $5 billion in U.S.-based capital projects because of last year's tax reform legislation, said Kirsten Lund-Jurgensen, president of Pfizer's global supply team.

"We are committed to serving patients with the best quality product. This investment will enable that," Lund-Jurgensen said. "It needs the best technology and the most highly skilled workers, and we will have both in southwest Michigan."

The new modular aseptic processing facility will allow Pfizer to manufacture its injectable drugs in sterile, self-contained production rooms to avoid cross contamination. Lund-Jurgensen said the plant will meet a growing worldwide trend.

"This will be a globally leading facility," Lund-Jurgensen said. "We're getting ahead of what is coming. We will be in a great situation for decades to come."

Groundbreaking for Pfizer's new building is planned for spring 2019 and its completion in 2021. After regulatory agencies validate the facility, production would begin in 2024.

The fund approved a Michigan Business Development Program Performance-based grant for $1 million and a Good Jobs for Michigan Withholding Tax Capture, which will provide a 100 percent tax break for up to 10 years, a value of $10.5 million. That is in addition to the $32.1 million, 50 percent tax break the Portage City Council approved in April.

According to a memo from Mike Gietzen, the MEDC's senior business development project manager, the maker of drugs including Lipitor, Lyrica and Viagra said that without the incentives, the "site expects to see flat or declining production volume and loss of jobs."

Average incomes of positions at Pfizer's new facility, according to an MEDC news release, would range from $70,100 to $93,300.

Josh Hundt, the MEDC's development finance director, told The Detroit News that the project shows a strong partnership between local and state government to encourage the life science sector in Michigan.

"This is a project that continues to show a strong, diversified economy in Michigan," Hundt said. "A company like Pfizer chose to expand in Michigan, when they could have done this anywhere in the world. It's evidence that Michigan is a great place for new manufacturing ideas and manufacturing talent."

According to the Michigan Economic Development Corp., Pfizer has 13 facilities in the world where it makes injectable drugs, including its Portage site. More than 2,200 people work in its 120 buildings, which, Pfizer says, has an annual economic impact of $2.2 billion in West Michigan.

"Our team here is very strong," Lund-Jurgensen said. "We are confident in the site and the environment, and we are committed to making this investment in Michigan."