By David Raleigh
Pharmaceutical company Regeneron, has announced 200 jobs and an additional investment of $350m at its biopharmaceutical production facility in Limerick.
The US company, which announced it was coming to the Raheen business park in Limerick in December 2013 and which achieved planning permission in April 2014, has already filled its original quota of 300 employees.
Today's announcement brings the total number of jobs at the Limerick firm to 500 jobs with a total investment of $650m by the end of 2017.
The company's 400,000 square foot, state-of-the-art biologics production facility, is the site of the former Dell Computer facility, and is Regeneron's first bio processing campus outside of the United States.
With approximately 300 full-time employees, 200 contingent workers and 550 construction workers in place, recruitment is underway to bring the additional jobs in commercial manufacturing, process sciences, quality assurance/control and various support functions for scientists, chemists and technicians.
At peak, a total of 1,200 contractors were onsite to support the development.
The company essentially "brews" future drugs to be tested for the marketplace, a spokesman said.
Regeneron's President and CEO, Leonard S Schleifer said: "The Limerick facility will play an essential role in ensuring Regeneron delivers on our mission to consistently and repeatedly bring new medicines to patients with serious diseases."
Dan Van Plew, Senior Vice President and General Manager of IOPS at Regeneron, said: "The entire community has gone out of its way to welcome us and help us create the momentum we need to build this site. Our people – your countrymen – have done something remarkable."
Mr Van Plew described the current 300 strong Limerick workforce as "top notch".
"The decision to create 200 new full-time roles and invest an additional $350 million in Limerick was an easy one to make because of our hiring and trades experiences over the last two years," he added.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD welcomed the jobs boost.
"We are intent on keeping this recovery going by keeping Ireland competitive and by attracting more investment and jobs into the regions," he added.
Jobs Minister, Richard Bruton said: "It is great news for Limerick and the wider region. I wish the team at Regeneron every success for the future."
Also speaking at the announcement, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan, said: "Regeneron’s ambitious expansion plans demonstrate the company’s commitment to the region."
The IDA played a key role in attracting Regeneron to Limerick.
IDA Chief Executive, Martin Shanahan said: "This $350 million investment announcement from Regeneron is a huge boost for the Mid-West Region. Biopharma is thriving as an industry in Ireland right now, and Regeneron is a prime example of this. This new facility will provide employment to people at all levels from science, engineering and admin backgrounds."