State releases $200 million for drug manufacturing plant in Dunkirk

By Stephen T. Watson via the Buffalo News

The state has released $200 million in aid for a drug manufacturing plant that Athenex intends to build in Dunkirk, and the company is prepared to hire a construction and engineering manager for the massive project.

Those are the most concrete signs of progress yet for the long-delayed project viewed as a potential economic engine for northern Chautauqua County.

New York State had promised to invest $200 million in building a 315,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility for Athenex, and the biotech company had promised over time to spend $1.52 billion and hire 450 workers there. But little activity had taken place at the site since state and Athenex officials announced the public-private partnership in February 2016.

That’s why elected officials who represent the area say they applaud the Empire State Development board of directors’ approval of funding for the project and say they are optimistic the drug-making operation will soon get off the ground.

The state has released $200 million in aid for a drug manufacturing plant that Athenex intends to build in Dunkirk, and the company is prepared to hire a construction and engineering manager for the massive project.

Those are the most concrete signs of progress yet for the long-delayed project viewed as a potential economic engine for northern Chautauqua County.

New York State had promised to invest $200 million in building a 315,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility for Athenex, and the biotech company had promised over time to spend $1.52 billion and hire 450 workers there. But little activity had taken place at the site since state and Athenex officials announced the public-private partnership in February 2016.

That’s why elected officials who represent the area say they applaud the Empire State Development board of directors’ approval of funding for the project and say they are optimistic the drug-making operation will soon get off the ground.

 “We’re very anxious to get the work going,” State Sen. Catharine Young, R-Olean, the chairwoman of the Senate Finance Committee, said in an interview Tuesday.

Athenex, formed in 2003 as Kinex Pharmaceuticals, traces its roots to research into promising anti-cancer drugs conducted by a onetime University at Buffalo chemistry professor.

The company grew rapidly over the past five years, acquiring or making licensing agreements with several small pharmaceutical companies to give it access to market-ready drug ingredients and drug candidates. By the start of this year, Athenex had 380 employees in Buffalo, Newstead, N.J., Texas, Hong Kong, Taiwan and China, and had raised about $500 million in capital.

Athenex has a North American headquarters, product development center and pilot plant on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, where the state invested $25 million in construction and equipment costs.

The company in 2014 began looking for a location for a plant where it would manufacture advanced cancer drugs and pharmaceutical products to ship around the world.

The state urged Athenex to pick a site outside metro Buffalo and Erie County, to bring the economic-development benefits of the project to an outlying area of Western New York.

Athenex worked with Ciminelli Real Estate Corp., McGuire Development and the engineering firm CHA to select the site on Lake Shore Drive East in the Town of Dunkirk, Athenex officials previously said.

View the rest of the story at the Buffalo News