Novo Nordisk expects to spend well above its projected $1.2 billion to build a second manufacturing plant near Clayton.
On Monday, the Danish insulin maker showed its building plans to the Clayton Planning Board, winning approval and gratitude along the way.
“Clayton and Johnston County are extremely fortunate Novo Nordisk is making their expansion here,” Planning Board member Frank Price said.
The new plant will be 900,000 square feet and cover 95 acres next to Novo’s current operation. When the company announced its expansion plan last summer, it pegged the cost at $1.2 billion, but project leader Gary Lohr said that figure is conservative.
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“It’s looking like we’ll far exceed that number,” he said.
Lohr’s presentation was partly about the Clayton expansion and partly about the state of diabetes treatment in the world. He called diabetes a pandemic and said that in 1998, the World Health Organization estimated 300 million people would suffer from diabetes by 2025. In 2014, that figure stood at 387 million and is expected to reach 592 million by 2035. Without the future Clayton plant, he said, the world would not have an adequate supply of diabetes medication if the company’s plant in Denmark went offline.
The second Clayton plant won’t open until 2020, but the company has already posted 22 jobs online and received more than 1,000 applications, Lohr said. The expansion will create 700 jobs in all and more than 1,000 temporary construction jobs.
The campus will consist of production and storage buildings, a water-treatment plant and offices. Entrances will be off of Powhatan Road and Gordon Road and will include a new state-built bridge just for use by the company. Lohr said employee and operational traffic will be separated.
Lohr said a company mandate requires the plant to be carbon-neutral upon opening.
Clayton Planning Director David DeYoung said that only the project’s site plan would come before the Planning Board and Town Council. The staff has the authority to sign off on plans for individual buildings, he said.
Among the irregularities for the complex is a 90-foot-tall building, which surpasses Clayton’s height limit of 80 feet. Planning Board member George Coates asked if the fire department was concerned about the height of the building.
“The fire department is comfortable with the height,” DeYoung said. “This is not the first time they’ve seen something like this. The tower for Grifols is more than 100 feet tall. They just want to come up with a plan and they’re comfortable.”
Lohr said the most explosive chemical in the plant would be ethanol and that the company was working with fire departments on a response plan in case of an explosion.
Drew Jackson: 919-553-7234, Ext. 104; @jdjackson