Exela investing in North Carolina plant

Contract manufacturer Exela Pharma Sciences is investing in its Lenoir, NC, plant, with plans to nearly double employment there in the next three years.

The subsidiary of Reston, VA-based Exela PharmSci develops and manufactures injectable and ophthalmic drugs. It just announced that it will invest $8.5 million in its facility and expects to add 38 positions to the 40 it currently has.

"Exela is pleased to be in a position to pursue its expansion plans and create these high-paying jobs in Caldwell County," Exela CEO Phanesh Koneru said. He thanked officials of the state and local governments that are kicking in some assistance. The project is approved for a $189,000 One North Carolina Fund grant, which is paid after job milestones are hit and is contingent upon local matches, according to the governor's office.

North Carolina has been aggressive with its support of drug manufacturing jobs. In August, Hospira ($HSP) said it would increase employment at its Rocky Mount, NC, plant on the other side of the state by about 200 jobs over 36 months. The maker of generic sterile injectable drugs said it would invest at least $85 million in its plant. The state, county and city are kicking in a combined $645,000 in incentives for that project.

Exela currently operates a 20,000-square-foot sterile research and manufacturing plant facility in Lenoir. The plant has fully equipped two class 1,000 clean rooms and two class 10,000 clean rooms. The company is  developing lyophilization capabilities incorporating a 24-square-foot lyophilizer in a class 1,000 clean room.

- here's the release