ast week Princeton, N.J.–based Bristol-Myers Squibb became the latest to latch on to a life sciences wave striking Florida.
Leaders from the biopharmaceutical company announced plans July 18 to open a new North America Capability center in the Tampa Bay area employing up to 250 IT, marketing, business and finance services personnel by the time it opens in January 2014, and another 325 scientific and technical support staff by 2017. A specific site in Hillsborough County has not yet been selected.
"We are pleased to locate our North America Capability Center in Hillsborough County," said Gareth Morgan, senior vice president, Bristol-Myers Squibb. "We evaluated many locations and considered many factors before deciding that Florida was the best state for our new facility. We specifically selected Hillsborough County for several reasons, including its talented work force, strong university presence, the Tampa Bay region’s business climate, economy and quality of life, and availability of the necessary logistics and office facilities."
Asked about the site selection process, Frederick Egenolf, director of corporate communications and community affairs for the company, says, "We conducted a comprehensive evaluation of several locations in the Eastern and Central time zones before selecting Tampa. We are not disclosing the names of those locations."
The Tampa Tribune reports that county documents indicate a capital investment as high as $21.2 million with a payroll exceeding $37.6 million when the facility is fully staffed.
The facility on the surface might resemble a typical shared services center. But Egenolf is quick to distinguish it from other centers.
"The Tampa project is our first 'capability center,' " he writes in an email. "We have regional 'operation centers' or 'expertise centers' that focus on a specific business activity (IT, finance, etc.) at locations in the U.S., Latin America, Europe, Asia, Australia. The Tampa center will differ from existing shared services centers by bringing various functions (IT, marketing services, business and finance services) supporting our biopharmaceutical business together in a single location.
"The North America Capability Center will help us build important business capabilities across our company; improve the integration, efficiency and productivity of our internal services supporting our biopharmaceutical business; and increase our competitiveness by locating these services in a single location," he further explains. "The new center also allows us to extend our talent pipeline into a new labor market and create career opportunities within the new center that can be leveraged across Bristol-Myers Squibb.
"By creating an enterprise-level capability center for key knowledge areas supporting our U.S. business, we can share deep subject-matter expertise and invest in and build capabilities across the enterprise, rather than have expertise reside within a single function or business unit," he says. "By building a strongly entrepreneurial culture from the ground up, we also will be able to identify, test and incubate new ideas and approaches that may not be possible at our larger, more established facilities."
Proof of Evolution
At the announcement, Gareth Morgan said work accomplished at the new facility would embody the company's cultural hallmarks of innovation and continuous improvement. The deal itself seemed to embody those qualities for Florida Gov. Rick Scott, whose then-new administration was unable to cement a deal with Jackson Laboratory two years ago that was poised to take advantage of the same area attributes that have attracted Bristol-Myers Squibb.
"Since taking office, my focus has been on job creation and turning Florida’s economy around," said Gov. Scott. "We have worked tirelessly to improve the state’s business climate by removing cumbersome regulations and taxes, and strengthening our work force. Announcements like this one from Bristol-Myers Squibb show that companies are taking notice of our economic turnaround and that it’s working in Florida."
"This transformative project is a testament to the strength of our growing life sciences industry," said the Hon. Ken Hagan, chairman of the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners, "as well as the significant collaboration between the company, the county and our economic development partners, including Enterprise Florida, the Tampa Bay Partnership and the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation."
Other agencies involved included Workforce Florida, Inc., the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, and the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners, which according to published reports approved $2.1 million in incentives for a yet-to-be-named company one day before the announcement.
According to the state, Florida is now home to nearly 1,000 biotech, pharmaceutical and medical device companies. Tampa Bay in particular is home to over 600 life sciences organizations employing more than 13,200 people, including 14 percent of the state's biotech companies and 22 percent of its pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing work force. In addition to a solid healthcare infrastructure in the area, Greater Tampa Bay also benefits from the institutional infrastructure offered by the University of South Florida's healthcare and research cluster, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute, the Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation and the M2GEN biomarker research institute.
Stuart Rogel, president and CEO of the Tampa Bay Partnership, said Bristol-Myers Squibb's choice of Tampa Bay "is a testament to the steadfast collaboration of our eight-county region to attract global companies in the life sciences and pharmaceutical sectors. Furthermore, it is proof that Tampa Bay has the regional assets necessary to support the operations of these global industry leaders."
"The Tampa market, with its pool of highly-skilled workers and competitive costs, is an ideal location for the center," company spokesman Egenolf reiterates. "The investments we make now, particularly by increasing our commercial investment in diabetes and R&D investment in our exciting immuno-oncology portfolio, will help sustain our position as a biopharma leader."
Florida and Tampa hope this company's new project does the same thing for them.