Exela OK'd for $1M USDA loan for plant expansion

Contract manufacturer Exela Pharma Sciences early this year said it planned to invest $8.5 million in its plant in Lenoir, NC, and eventually double employment there. The U.S. Department of Agriculture agreed to kick in $1 million to help that happen.

The Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corporation has gotten the OK to receive the $1 million economic development loan for Exela. The cooperative and drugmaker must now go through due diligence for the loan. "This public-private partnership with the support of the US Government, in this case, the Department of Agriculture, is exemplary and what is needed to jump-start our economy," Exela CEO Dr. Phanesh Koneru said.

The subsidiary of Reston, VA-based Exela PharmSci develops and manufactures injectable and ophthalmic drugs. The company announced the $8.5 million expansion in January and said it would add 38 positions to the 40 currently there. It already has been approved for a $189,000 One North Carolina Fund grant, which is paid after job milestones are hit and is contingent upon local matches.

Exela currently operates a 20,000-square-foot sterile research and manufacturing plant facility in Lenoir. The company is developing lyophilization capabilities incorporating a 24-square-foot lyophilizer in a class 1000 clean room. The plant currently has two class 1000 clean rooms and two class 10,000 clean rooms.

North Carolina has been aggressive with its support of drug manufacturing jobs. Nearly a year ago, 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 $13 million in incentives for that project.

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