Friday, April 30, 2004

Vacaville Applauds Genentech Expansion

By: Sally Wyatt, The Reporter

When Genentech, one of Vacaville’s top employers and one the world’s leading biotechnology firms, broke ground on its expansion site in Vacaville on April 2, it sent a signal that says “California: Open for Business.”

That was the message heard by Genentech executives, as well as many state, county and local officials, when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appeared at the groundbreaking ceremony and spoke to the assemblage. He called the expansion a “huge win for our state,” according to an article in The Reporter.

Vacaville – and California – nearly lost the biotech leader’s expansion contract to other states, or even nations, because California is not typically seen as being competitive for business development, according to Susan D. Hellmann, president of product development at Genentech. Hellmann also spoke to the crowd at the groundbreaking ceremony. “Other states offer better financial incentives” for expanding businesses, she noted in the article.

But, Vacaville has a decidedly different reputation on the matter, and Genentech executives lauded the process here. This city’s “aggressive move” to convince the company to expand here ultimately led to their selecting Vacaville over other possible locations for their expansion, according to The Reporter.

Vacaville’s streamlined permitting process and the company’s existing investment in land and facilities here helped seal the deal, according to Hellmann. By expanding on the Vacaville site, the company was able to trim one to two years off the delay between expansion and production, noted Frank Jackson, vice president for Vacaville Product Operations in the article. He also cited the area’s skilled workforce as yet another reason for the selection.

The expansion – worth an estimated $600 million – will double the size of the current facility and greatly increase its workforce, which is further good news for the Vacaville community.

“This is not just an important event for Vacaville, it’s an important event for California,” Vacaville Mayor Len Augustine said.

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