Covance, a multibillion-dollar world class company, celebrated Thursday the opening of its early-stage medical research facility in Chandler.
One of the world’s largest and most comprehensive drug development services companies, it has the people, global resources and problem-solving culture to respond to pharmaceutical and biotechnology clients’ toughest drug development challenges.
At a time when our national and local economies are suffering the worst financial crisis since the 1930s, the construction of this new facility injected more than $100 million in our local economy. Along with the new jobs Covance brings, its annual economic impact is estimated to be $1.8 million.
We are fortunate that they have elected to locate their research facility in Chandler. Our community and especially our local media need to focus on the good news Covance brings and help celebrate their coming to the East Valley.
Along with the direct impact, Covance will also be a magnet to attract other companies to Arizona. That is a key ingredient to Arizona’s long-term plan to develop a bioscience hub in our state. The experience of bioscience centers like Boston, San Diego and Seattle makes one thing very clear: Research companies tend to cluster in areas where there is already a concentration of like companies. While we have a long way to go to be mentioned in the same breath as these three cities, we are beginning to make significant progress.
The initial impetus came from the passage of Proposition 301 in 2001, which provided $1 billion over 20 years for scientific research at the state universities. In 2002, the Finn Foundation designed and launched Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap to plan and track the state’s progress in building a bioscience hub.
Just a few of the many examples from their 2008 progress report suggest just how far we have come. To increase their footprint in the United States, the Swiss pharmaceutical and diagnostics giant Roche Holding AG purchased Ventana Medical Systems, Tucson’s largest biotech employer, for $3.4 billion and plans major expansions. The National Science Foundation awarded BIO5 in Tucson a $50 million grant to establish the iPlant Collaborative, a global center that will help researchers worldwide tackle multidisciplinary plant-sciences challenges.
The government of Luxembourg announced a $200 million bioscience initiative linking Nobel laureate Lee Hartwell of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle with TGen and the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University in the Partnership for Personalized Medicine. A comprehensive list of accomplishments over the last eight years can be found at www.flinn.org.
Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap progress report for 2009 will certainly include Covance’s new research facility as a major step in Arizona’s becoming a bioscience hub.
In closing, one final benefit Covance brings to the East Valley: a history of intense community involvement. I am proud to be among the majority of local citizens who welcome the company to the East Valley.
Chandler resident Joe O’Neill is vice president of Arizona CURE, a group that seeks to educate the public about the benefits of pharmaceutical research and building up the state’s bioscience industry.