WuXi's STA to build massive manufacturing facility in Delaware, adding 500 jobs

WuXi STA's planned manufacturing site in Middletown, Delaware, is depicted in a land use application submitted in April to the state's planning commission. (WuXi STA)

“Project Dragonfly,” STA Pharmaceutical’s codenamed plan to build a massive manufacturing facility, has emerged from the cover of darkness, brought into the light by a $19 million grant from the state of Delaware.

On Monday, STA, the United States’ affiliate of WuXi AppTech of China, unveiled Middletown, Delaware, as the location of its sprawling pharmaceutical manufacturing campus.

The facility will occupy 190 acres and its seven buildings will cover a whopping 1.74 million square feet of floor space, according to planning documents WuXi submitted in April.

STA said it expects to open the plant in 2024. The site will include testing laboratories plus space for manufacturing and packaging of active pharmaceutical ingredients and sterile and solid dosage products.    

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It's the largest business investment by the state in a decade and is nearly four times the amount Delaware granted to Amazon last year for a 3.8-million square foot fulfillment facility, Delaware Business Now reports.

“This is an investment in good jobs that will drive economic growth,” Gov. John Carney said in STA's release. “This campus will build on our strength in biopharmaceuticals.”

Delaware's investment includes $15.3 million for construction costs, plus $3.25 million to hire 479 employees by 2024 and $500,000 to train them, The Delaware Business Times reports. After potential expansions, STA says about 1,000 employees could eventually work there.

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WuXi already has a presence in the area with a cell and gene factory about an hour up I-95 in Philadelphia.

STA's move to Delaware is part of the parent company's CDMO push worldwide. Another affiliate, WuXi Biologics, has accumulated three plants each in Europe and the U.S. WuXi also has set up another CDMO subsidiary, WuXi XDC, which will focus on manufacturing bioconjugates.