BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — Oxford Pharmaceuticals is closer to producing generic drugs in Alabama with a $29.4 million Birmingham plant that gives the state’s largest metro area a foothold in an important industry.
Company officials joined elected and economic development officials Wednesday for a ceremonial groundbreaking at the plant site, though it was clear by the construction going on behind them that general contractor Robins & Morton Inc. has already actually started work.
The 120,000-square-foot facility is being built on 23.4 acres in the Jefferson Metropolitan Park-Lakeshore and is expected to be operating in the third quarter of 2016.
Oxford Pharmaceuticals, a new venture formed in Oxford, England, will produce, package and research generic drugs at the Alabama plant. The project will initially create 61 jobs, but that figure is projected to grow to 200 within 10 years. The company has said it has room for further expansion.
John Schultz, president and general manager of Oxford Pharmaceuticals in Birmingham, said Alabama’s largest city has resources like Innovation Depot and the University of Alabama at Birmingham that gave it a competitive advantage.
“We were looking at Nashville, we were looking at Huntsville. We spent some time investigating Charlotte,” Schultz said. “With the help of Innovation Depot and the training support that we will get from the state in AIDT and the partnership with UAB, they are all great incentives to come to Birmingham that some of the other places didn’t have.”
Schultz said Innovation Depot is providing the company with temporary space while the facility is being built.
“We will have a wide variety of employment levels in the plant,” he said. “It’s a well-educated, diverse workforce here in Birmingham and we’re looking forward to tapping into it.”
GAINING A FOOTHOLD
Oxford Pharmaceuticals is a great addition to the Birmingham economy, according to Brian Hilson, CEO of the Birmingham Business Alliance.
“We’re fortunate to have a diversified economy, a diversified set of large and small employers that do many, many different things and require many different skill sets,” Hilson said. “This is one that we haven’t had that much of before, but nevertheless it’s a natural for Birmingham.”
Hilson said Oxford Pharmaceuticals is the 75th foreign company to invest in the Birmingham area, and its presence will give the region a foothold in an important industry.
“If you look at economic growth in Birmingham, Alabama, and you look at the best opportunities that we have to grow, one of the things that comes to mind is a company just like this: a pharmaceutical manufacturer that has selected the city of Birmingham, Jefferson County, state of Alabama for a manufacturing plant,” he said. “I like to think we can do more of these in the future.”
The Oxford Pharmaceuticals facility was designed by NOLA Van Peursem Architects in Huntsville.