French firm Cellectis, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing cancer treatments based on gene-edited T-cells, has selected Raleigh, North Carolina, for its first U.S. commercial-scale manufacturing facility, with plans to create 200 new jobs.
“Cellectis intends to build the world’s first manufacturing facility in North Carolina that will put together gene editing and cell therapies,” said André Choulika, chairman and CEO of Cellectis. “This state-of-the-art facility will reflect our cutting-edge advances in manufacturing sophisticated gene-edited cell therapies at a commercial scale.”
“We benchmarked several locations within North Carolina and in other states and selected Raleigh, which combined multiple advantages, including a strong state support and willingness to welcome world-class innovative companies.” Choulika said.
Founded in 1999, Cellectis harnesses the immune system to target and eradicate cancers. With teams in Paris and in New York, the company uses gene editing to develop cost-effective, “off-the-shelf” allogeneic product candidates from healthy donor T-cells that would be immediately available for patients across all geographies.
“The groundbreaking work that Cellectis will produce in North Carolina will continue to strengthen our role in biopharmaceuticals, as well as have a major impact in the battle against cancer,” Gov. Roy Cooper said.
“Once life science companies like Cellectis understand the advantages that North Carolina offers to biomanufacturers, they’re eager to locate here,” said North Carolina Commerce Secretary Anthony M. Copeland.
The North Carolina Department of Commerce and the Economic Development Partnership of N.C. (EDPNC) led the state’s support for the company’s expansion.
Cellectis intends to create a variety of positions in Wake County, including scientists, engineers, analysts, manufacturing and operations personnel with jobs above the county average salary. Once all positions are filled, the annual payroll impact will be more than $20 million.
Cellectis’ expansion in Wake County will be supported in part by a Job Development Investment Grant (JDIG). Over the course of the 12-year term of this grant, the project will grow the state’s economy by an estimated $1.4 billion. Using a formula that takes into account the new tax revenues generated by the new jobs, the JDIG agreement authorizes the potential reimbursement to the company of up to $1,999,500 spread over 12 years. State payments only occur after the company has met its incremental job creation and investment targets.
Because Cellectis chose to locate in Wake County, classified by the state’s economic tier system as Tier 3, the company’s JDIG agreement also calls for moving as much as $666,500 into the state’s Industrial Development Fund – Utility Account. The Utility Account helps rural communities finance necessary infrastructure upgrades to attract future business. Even when new jobs are created in a Tier 3 county such as Wake, the new tax revenue generated through JDIG grants helps more economically challenged communities elsewhere in the state.
The North Carolina Biotechnology Center provided technical due diligence for this project, one of several recent projects that adds depth to the state’s biotech industry cluster.
Partnering with N.C. Commerce and the EDPNC on this project were the North Carolina General Assembly, the North Carolina Community College System, the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, Wake County Economic Development, Wake County Board of Commissioners, Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, City of Raleigh, Capital Area Workforce Development Board, Dominion Energy and the French-American Chamber of Commerce of the Carolinas.