Pfizer starts work on $236M biotherapeutics facility in Missouri

Campus will house 295,000 square feet of lab and office space.(Pfizer / STL Partnership)

Pfizer's biologic, vaccine and gene therapy researchers should have a new headquarters in mid-2019, now that construction work has started at a site in Chesterfield, Missouri.

Pfizer announced last year that it planned to build a new facility for its biotherapeutics R&D staffers in Missouri—a few miles west of St. Louis and just south of the company's current office complex—and contractors broke ground on the location at 875 West Chesterfield Parkway this week.

The new campus will be owned by Pfizer and will house more than 450 employees who currently work at multiple leased locations in the St. Louis area, with another 80 hires planned in the company years.

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It will house 295,000 square feet of lab and office space, which will be dedicated to the development of manufacturing processes and dosage forms, non-GMP manufacturing and scale-up studies, according to a Pfizer statement. The work will support the development of new products in oncology, rare disease, internal medicine, inflammation & immunology and vaccines, including biosimilars.

The design features "flexible laboratory layouts, scientific casework and utility hookups, open office and collaboration spaces and increased conferencing technologies where researchers can collaborate," said the firm.

The decision to stay in Missouri came after a search for a suitable location that took several years and also looked at sites on the West and East Coasts and North Carolina's Research Triangle, according to John Ludwig, senior vice president of BioTherapeutics Pharmaceutical Sciences at Pfizer.

"We've been proud to call Missouri home since 2002," he said, pointing to the "excellent life sciences workforce" based in the state and good relationships with state authorities, St. Louis County, and the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership in the intervening years.

"All of these were important factors as we sought a new home where we could continue to evolve our business over the coming years," said Ludwig.

The state and St. Louis County have also offered some incentives to keep Pfizer, which could be worth as much as $5 million depending on job creation totals, according to a St. Louis Post-Dispatch report.

The county has offered the company a 10-year, 50% tax abatement on real and personal property, while Pfizer has said it will donate $20,000 to the local schools to support STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education.