Scott visits Alachua for groundbreaking at Nanotherapeutics


Florida Gov. Rick Scott attends a groundbreaking ceremony for a new Nanotherapeutics facility in the city of Alachua's Progress Park Wednesday.

Doug Finger/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at 11:39 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at 3:18 p.m.

ALACHUA — The city of Alachua's past, present and future were on display Wednesday morning as Nanotherapeutics broke ground on a 165,000-square-foot facility on the grounds of the former Copeland Sausage plant.

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Florida Gov. Rick Scott attends a groundbreaking ceremony for a new Nanotherapeutics facility in the city of Alachua's Progress Park Wednesday.

Doug Finger/The Gainesville Sun

Facts

Nanotherapeutics

Founded 1999 as Nanocoat Technologies.
Started in UF Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator.
$135 million, 165,000-square-foot facility will be built on 30 acres of former Copeland Sausage property.
Now at 65 employees with plans for 150.
$90,000 average salary.
Uses tiny, nanometer-scale particle technology to make new drugs and to make existing drugs more effective, including oral, inhaled and injectable drugs, and topical gels and creams.

During a ceremony under a big tent with Gov. Rick Scott and about 250 people in attendance, Mayor Gib Coerper recalled that the plant's closing devastated the town in 1976. That was before the University of Florida's nearby Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator started nurturing companies built from medical research that fill the surrounding Progress Corporate Park.

After starting in the incubator in 1999, Nanotherapeutics has expanded to an office across the street and now plans to move into its Advanced Development and Manufacturing Center on the 30-acre campus west of Progress Corporate Park in early 2015.

The company previously announced that it plans to add 95 jobs for 150 total. Gary Ascani, vice president of business development, said the company already has added 10 jobs since the announcement as it ramps up to work on a contract and now has 65 employees.

News releases from the governor's office and Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce referred to 150 new jobs, which was the goal in the company's application for tax rebates.

The company is able to find workers locally because of the many biotech companies here, said Jim Talton, president, CEO and co-founder.

The $135 million facility is being built to fulfill the company's contract with the Department of Defense awarded in March to develop and manufacture drugs to treat bioterrorism and radiological threats and develop manufacturing processes for other manufacturers.

The base contract is for $135.8 million and two years with options up to 10 years and $358.9 million.

In addition to the defense contract, Nanotherapeutics was one of four companies to share in a $40 million contract from the Department of Health and Human Services announced Sept. 30 to boost flu vaccine production in the event of a pandemic.

Scott presented a Governor's Business Ambassador Award to Talton, placing the medallion hanging from red, white and blue ribbon over Talton's head.

"This is a great news day. More jobs," Scott said. "As you all know, I ran three years ago on a platform to get our state back to work, so every day we're announcing more jobs is a great day in this great state. It changes somebody's life, and it creates an opportunity for a family that they didn't have before."

According to bid documents, the company will conduct research and development on faster, cheaper and more effective ways to treat against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear attacks, and outbreaks of naturally occurring and genetically engineered infectious diseases.

The company already has a history of work on defense and other federal grants and contracts totaling millions of dollars to develop protections and treatments for bioterror and radiological threats, among other work.

Talton founded the company in 1999 as Nanocoat Technologies, changing the name to Nanotherapeutics in 2002.

The company uses tiny, nanometer-scale particle technology to make new drugs and to make existing drugs more effective, including oral, inhaled and injectable drugs, and topical gels and creams.

Talton said Nanotherapeutics will work with a team of companies on the medical countermeasures, including Allchem Industries of Alachua.

Allchem already manufactures an injectable cancer treatment formulated by Nanotherapeutics that is being used in clinical trials, Talton said.

In July 2012, the Alachua County Commission and Alachua City Commission approved tax rebates of as much as $105,000 each as a match to a $1.05 million rebate, with the rest coming from the state, in anticipation of the defense contract. The total rebate amount will be based on the number of jobs created.

Coerper said Alachua was a one-company town 40 years ago but learned its lesson when Copeland closed. The city has worked hard to be business friendly, he said.

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