Durham drug maker wants $924,000 city incentive

08/04/2014 8:16 PM

08/04/2014 8:17 PM

The city’s economic-development office wants the City Council to make a $924,676 incentive to keep a Durham pharmaceutical company in Durham.

Argos Therapeutics, whose home office is in northern Durham, plans an expansion and is being courted by five other North Carolina counties along with locations in Florida and Quebec, according economic development Director Kevin Dick’s memo to City Council members.

If done in Durham, the expansion would involve remodeling a 112,000-square foot building on T.W. Alexander Drive to accommodate company offices, manufacturing and research.

The incentive is on the council’s work session agenda Thursday and could move on for a vote at the Aug. 18 regular council meeting.

Durham County commissioners approved $925,000 incentive for Argos last week. Argos is also asking the state commerce department for money.

Argos Therapeutics ( bit.ly/URmnsF) has two products undergoing trials, one for a form of kidney cancer and the other for HIV, and expects they will also be effective for a range of cancers and infectious diseases. Its drug therapy is biochemically personalized for each patient, giving Argos, according to a corporate presentation, a market advantage over large competitors such as Novartis, Merck and Pfizer.

The company was incorporated in 1998, according the N.C. Secretary of State records, and made its initial public offering in February, grossing $45 million at $8 a share.

According to Dick’s memo, Argos’ plans include a $41 million capital investment that should lead to 236 new jobs by 2018 with an average wage of $90,725 plus benefits.

If approved, the city incentive would be paid in seven installments, anticipated to start in fiscal year 2016, conditional on Argos meeting specific investment and job-creation goals. Argos would be required to show evidence it has made the $41 million investment within three years of the incentive’s approval.

Increased tax revenue from the company, estimated at $1.7 million over 10 years beginning in fiscal 2016, would cover the city’s incentive cost and leave a profit of about $775,000.

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