Big Pharma still a big deal for NJ economy, despite cost cuts

Cushman & Wakefield's Jason Price

Pharma has long boosted commercial real estate in New Jersey, with some of the world's biggest drugmakers calling the state home. And that's not changing anytime soon, a new report says--despite layoffs and consolidation moves.

While the state has seen a "modest decline" in the demand for R&D and lab space, pharma's increased office requirements are balancing it out, Cushman & Wakefield noted in its New Jersey Pharma/Life Sciences Market Report.

That's not necessarily a surprise for a state that counts companies including Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ), Merck ($MRK), Novartis ($NVS), Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY), Sanofi ($SNY) and Bayer as corporate citizens. That group helped push New Jersey's life science worker tally to more than 115,000 in 2013, or 3.6% of the state's total--compared with 2.0% nationwide, Cushman & Wakefield notes.

Of course, there have been some fluctuations as of late, with larger companies enacting cost cuts to offset the patent cliff. Roche ($RHHBY) recently ditched its Nutley campus--opting instead to cross the river into New York--while Novartis handed back more than 365,000 square feet of leased office space in Florham Park. Others have relocated R&D to hot markets like Boston and San Francisco "due to their proximity to a higher concentration of universities and centers of excellence," Cushman & Wakefield's Jason Price pointed out in a statement.

But that's to be expected, Price stressed. "We will see contraction and growth as companies in this fluid industry merge, expand and consolidate," he said. "… And while lab/R&D may continue to be less of a driving factor in the state's real estate market, office needs will continue to boost both the local economy and real estate demand for years to come."

- read the release

Special Report: The largest biopharma layoffs of 2014

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