Today, Mayor Jody McLeod stood in the middle of a Clayton corn field to join Governor Pat McCrory, several members of the United States Congress and leaders from the largest insulin manufacturer in the world to shovel the first few piles of dirt in what will be the biggest pharmaceutical investment in state history.
Under sunny skies, Danish drug maker Novo Nordisk broke ground on its new $1.8 billion diabetes medicine production facility off Powhatan Road. More than 100 community members, employees and policy makers attended the ceremonial event alongside Lars Rebien Sørensen, president and chief executive officer of Novo Nordisk.
"This is a fantastic day," said Henrik Wulff, Executive Vice President, Novo Nordisk Product Supply. "As I am responsible for our worldwide production and manufacturing sites, I can tell you this place here in Clayton, North Carolina is extremely special to us. It has taken us around three years to stand here to today. It will be the first time in our company's history that will bring this type of technology outside our home country, meaning producing active pharmaceutical ingredients for our Novo medicines and insulin outside Denmark. For us … this is a really BIG deal."
Mayor McLeod recalled when Novo Nordisk first opened a facility in Clayton in 1996 and remarked that this new expansion was more evidence how well the Town of Clayton has grown along side Novo.
"Two decades ago, when Novo first came to Clayton, we had a population of about 5,000 – and two traffic lights," said the Mayor. "Since then, Clayton has tripled its population, the fastest growing town in Johnston County, and continues to make Top 10 lists for best places to live and raise a family. Novo Nordisk was just breaking into the North American market and now they are the largest insulin maker in the world. In a way – we have grown up together. It has been a partnership the entire way."
The Mayor remarked how the Town has worked hard to provide the infrastructure and support for Novo's growth, planning to help accommodate a specialized water pretreatment facility capable of processing high concentrations of effluents from the medicine-making process. Instead of concentrating on post-treatment, Novo can focus their attention on the creating of their core life-improving products. The revenue generated by providing this vital service to a corporate giant then stays local with Clayton – a further benefit for the community.
"We couldn’t have asked for better community partner," said Mayor McLeod. "When we needed to renovate two old school houses to create a modern Town Hall and performing arts center to serve our community – Novo was there. And now they’re making another massive commitment to Clayton –what one industry magazine named the largest investment in the U.S. to be announced in all of 2015. Our two-decades' long partnership grows stronger."
The Clayton facility, set to begin operation in 2020, will ensure production capacity for diabetes medicines in the U.S. for the decade ahead. It will measure 833,000 square feet and have a footprint of 417,639 square feet – the size of about seven football fields. This expansion is expected to create close to 700 new jobs, with an average salary that is $68,000 – $22,000 higher than the current average salary, and $15,000 more than the median household income in Johnston County. At the same time, Novo Nordisk expects to create major employment opportunities during the construction period, with up to 2,500 people working on the project at peak construction.
“As the prevalence of diabetes has grown in the U.S., so too has the demand for effective treatments,” said Lars Rebien Sørensen, president and chief executive officer of Novo Nordisk. “It gives me great pride to break ground on our new facility site in Clayton where we have an existing, strong organization. This site will play a vital role in enabling us to meet the needs of people living with diabetes in the U.S. for years to come.”
“Novo Nordisk’s billion dollar decision to bring this landmark manufacturing facility to North Carolina underscores its commitment to our state and confidence in our state’s talent,” said Pat McCrory, Governor of North Carolina. “This expansion of the current site and workforce highlights our ability to be a leader in bio-manufacturing at the global level.”
The new site is situated adjacent to Novo Nordisk’s existing 457,000 square foot Clayton facility. Expanded several times since it was inaugurated in 1996, Novo Nordisk’s current plant in Clayton is one of the company’s strategic production sites responsible for formulation, filling and packaging of diabetes medicines. The plant also assembles and packages the company’s FlexPen® and FlexTouch® prefilled insulin devices for the U.S. market.
Once the new site becomes operational, the diabetes API production organization in Clayton will be named DAPI-US (Diabetes Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients – US). It will be part of the Danish diabetes API production organization in Kalundborg, which will be named DAPI-Denmark.
On Aug. 26, 2015, Novo Nordisk announced that it would invest $2 billion into production facilities in Clayton; Malov, Denmark; and Kalundborg, Denmark. A whopping $1.8 billion of that amount will be invested in the Clayton! That same day, the company announced a decision to initiate phase 3a development of oral semaglutide, a GLP-1 analogue formulated as a once-daily tablet for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.
PHOTO BELOW: Over the next four years, a $1.8 billion pharmaceutical plant will rise from this cornfield on Powhatan Road.