€44m project to create 100 building jobs in Waterford

Up to 100 jobs are to be created during the construction of a drug production line in Waterford which will see the city become only the second manufacturing base of a major insulin brand.

The €44m announcement was made at the Genzyme biotechnology plant in Waterford City when Jobs Minister Richard Bruton visited the campus which employs between 500 and 550 people.

Mr Bruton said there was “a transition” going on between old employment sectors which were going through difficulties and “new sectors” which were creating jobs, such as the Genzyme facility.

He made the comment in response to questions about the 300 workers made redundant with the closure of HMV in Ireland and the closure of the B&Q outlets in Waterford and Athlone.

“It’s a difficult time and our sympathy is with the workers directly affected, but it is, I suppose, part of a transition that’s going on. We are seeing a change and what’s encouraging is that, in the overall picture, private sector employment in the last 12 months has grown by 12,000. So the new sectors that we’re building for the future are now outweighing areas where, for different reasons — the change in consumer tastes, change in technologies — you’re seeing certain sectors in decline and having difficulties.

“I think the positive thing is the sort of story we have from today where a company that is very much looking to the future and looking to build new markets is choosing Waterford and Genzyme to make that investment.”

Genzyme was taken over by French-based multinational Sanofi two years ago and Sanofi has decided to make Waterford its second manufacturing hub, along with Frankfurt, for its Lantus line of insulin.

Mr Bruton said the €44m investment in the production facility at Genzyme was a vote of confidence in the region and in Ireland as a world biotech leader.

“It shows that, under the new acquisition by Sanofi, Genzyme continues to go from strength to strength. They have recognised that the strengths they have built up in the Waterford site are ones they can bring great value from and they’re building up new lines... That’s absolutely underlining the quality of the work here.”

The project is backed financially by the IDA but, in line with usual policy, chief executive Barry O’Leary would not reveal the extent of State investment in the development.

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