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Alcami Scraps Wilmington Expansion Plan, Gives Up Local Tax Incentives

By Cece Nunn, posted Jul 7, 2017
Scientists work at Alcami's lab facilities in Wilmington. (File photo)
Drug development and manufacturing firm Alcami Corp. has formally scrapped plans for a major expansion in Wilmington and given up a $500,000 incentives package that would have come with that growth.

Additionally, Alcami, formerly known as AAIPharma before its merger with Cambridge Major Laboratories Inc. and a name change last year, is slowly transitioning its executive team to the company's Durham location. In the interim, the team is working out of Wilmington and Durham.

Carson Sublett, chief administrative officer for Alcami, said Friday that the decision to "co-locate" executive offices this year resulted from the need for the firm's leaders to have a presence near a pharmaceutical and biotech hub such as Research Triangle Park near Durham and because of a lack of direct flights to Wilmington for clients, investors and others conducting business with Alcami.

"It's important for us to be aligned close to client bases," Sublett said.

In November 2015, the company announced a planned investment of at least $15.8 million to expand its laboratories and headquarters in Wilmington. According to the announcement, the project would have provided "up to 40,000 square feet of expanded development services capacity" and included a new administration building that would have "become the global headquarters of the company."

In February 2016, Alcami (called AAIPharma Services Corp. in official documents at the time), the city of Wilmington and New Hanover County entered into an incentives agreement in which the county agreed to pay $275,000 over five years and the city $225,000 over the same period if the company's direct investment in a new facility here totaled at least $20 million and generated 50 new full-time jobs at an average salary of $77,000 a year. 

The project was expected to be complete by 2019.

In May this year, Alcami announced that it was expanding its operations in Charleston County, South Carolina. The same month as the Charleston announcement, Alcami officials informed the city and county that the company, which was purchased by private equity firm Ares Capital Corp. last year, had made the strategic decision to abandon its 2015 Wilmington expansion plan, Sublett said.

In a letter to County Manager Chris Coudriet dated May 12, Sublett wrote, "The ability for Alcami Corporation to achieve the full potential of the business in the pharmaceutical industry with the Headquarters in Wilmington, versus a location within a pharmaceutical hub was evaluated by leadership. The result of this evaluation is the decision to not build the Headquarters facility in Wilmington."

He said that last week, representatives from Alcami met with Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo and other local officials to explain Alcami's ongoing commitments and investments in the city in a session facilitated by Scott Satterfield, CEO of the local economic development agency Wilmington Business Development.

Sublett said it was important to Alcami, which has not received any city or county incentive money as a result of the previous agreement, to notify local officials about the company's change of direction so that the city and county wouldn't continue setting aside economic development incentive funds that could be used for something else. 

Asked about Alcami on Friday, Satterfield said, "Alcami's a global player in one of the world's most dynamic industries. We’re proud that greater Wilmington continues to serve as a major hub for its mission-centric business operations. Alcami’s investment in workforce and their economic impact in greater Wilmington continues to be on an exciting trajectory and I would say too that the company has long and very strong roots in Wilmington, and I don’t’ believe that their decision to house its corporate leadership in another location changes the company's commitments to its long list of operations here."

Sublett made a similar statement, saying that Alcami has "a substantial workforce here that contributes to our business and to the community."

Alcami hired 100 additional employees in 2016, 30 of which were hired for Wilmington-based positions, Sublett said, and the company is still hiring for positions in Wilmington. The firm has about 1,000 employees in all of its locations, with its largest population of employees residing in the Wilmington area.

"We will continue to have the need and do have the need for administrative functions to be here in Wilmington as they exist today," Sublett said.

Firm employees have also been teaching University of North Carolina Wilmington students in a class on pharmaceutical drug development and good manufacturing practices, Sublett said.

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