Why the Abzena Announcement Matters

April 21, 2021 | Written by: sanford-user

By Jimmy Randolph, SAGA CEO

When Abzena announced their decision last Tuesday to locate a life sciences contract development and manufacturing organization at Shell Building #2 in CCEP, press releases and media reports were largely focused on three key aspects of the announcement: capital investment, new jobs created and average wages paid for those new jobs. Why are these three metrics so important?

Capital investment matters because it expands the base of taxable property in the county and the city. As taxpayers in Sanford and Lee County, our property taxes fund the majority of vital public services we depend on to maintain the quality of life we enjoy. When Abzena expands our tax base by investing $213M in Lee County and Sanford, property tax revenues will expand significantly, without any increase in the tax rate. This gives us the option to potentially reduce the tax rate for everyone, and also make additional investments in improving vital services and community amenities, like public education, parks and libraries.

New job creation matters because employment is at the heart of individual success in America. In addition to the material opportunities afforded by a regular source of income, researchers have long cited the importance of gainful employment for an individual’s general wellbeing, including physical and mental health, social connections and engagement, and overall happiness. Beyond the individual benefits, new jobs create significant “ripple effects” in the local and regional economy, and manufacturing jobs, particularly highly skilled jobs like many of those in the life sciences manufacturing sector, have stronger ripple effects than those in other sectors. Economists estimate that for each of the 325 jobs created by Abzena, five to seven more jobs will be created up and down the supply chain, amplifying the impact on our local economy dramatically.

Average wages matter, because not all new jobs are the same. Jobs like those offered by Abzena will pay wages 50% higher than the current county average wage, and will have a proportionally greater impact on individual wealth and spending in the local economy, further boosting the myriad small businesses and service providers that operate in Lee County. These jobs require greater and more specialized skills than lower paying jobs, and provide an important incentive for our local residents to further their education and refine their skills to succeed in these jobs. The opportunity for upward mobility afforded by higher paying jobs is essential for any community that aspires to create a better future for itself and its residents.

Announcements like last week’s Abzena decision boost our community’s prestige and reputation as a leader in the life sciences manufacturing sector, and they position us to be even more competitive for future projects. The real value, however, is the positive impact of tax base expansion and new, high quality jobs on the day to day lives of the residents of Lee County, Sanford and Broadway.