By Jimmy Randolph, SAGA CEO
In the face of ongoing supply chain challenges and a resurgence in the number and severity of COVID-19 infections associated with the Delta variant, it would be logical to assume that economic development project activity would diminish significantly, if not pause entirely in the near term. While that may be the case in other areas of the country and the world, SAGA is currently responding to location inquiries and requests for information at near-historic levels, primarily from the life sciences sector, and more specifically, biomanufacturing. We are clearly doing something right.
Just last week, we conducted a formal site visit with a foreign life sciences company planning to invest nearly $100 million and create hundreds of additional new, high-quality jobs somewhere in North America. We face stiff competition from at least one other community in NC and others around the country, but after recent decisions by Pfizer, Astellas Gene Therapies and Abzena to expand or locate new biomanufacturing facilities here, we are once again on a relatively short list of qualified sites under consideration.
Company representatives identified two clear priorities which would drive their final site decision; speed to market and workforce availability. Thanks to timely investments by both the public and private sector, we are better prepared than many of our competitors to address these challenges…
- Public and private sector investment in Central Carolina Enterprise Park has created high quality, ready sites that offer companies a significant speed to market advantage.
- Public investments in pre-K through 14 public education and innovative biotech training programs and facilities have contributed to a robust and sustainable talent pipeline.
- Public investments in quality of place initiatives such as streetscapes, parks and greenways provide employers with greater confidence that they can attract key employees and their families to our community.
Regardless of the outcome of this most recent visit, our public and private partners and investors have proven the effectiveness of SAGA’s strategy for positive economic growth and prosperity. It was not a short or easy journey that got us to this point, nor will it be easy to maintain our competitive advantage, but we can reasonably expect to continue to reap the rewards as long as we remain committed to this winning approach.