Gene therapy company doubles plans for RTP jobs after receiving incentives
For the second time in less than a year, AveXis, a clinical-stage gene therapy company that makes treatments for spinal muscular atrophy, plans to create 200 jobs in Durham County.
The new jobs would double the company’s planned headcount in Research Triangle Park.
If the company meets certain milestones it will be eligible for a state incentives package worth around $1.4 million. The incentive is scheduled to be paid out over a 12-year period.
The average wage is expected to be around $73,000, which is above Durham’s county average of around $69,000. The company said it would invest $60 million by Dec. 31, 2020.
The company will be hiring scientists and engineers as well as manufacturing and warehouse positions.
AveXis will also receive $320,000 from the state’s community colleges training fund and Durham County is chipping in $750,000 in local incentives, the state said at the announcement.
Last year, the company said it would create 200 jobs and invest $55 million after receiving an incentive package worth up to nearly $3 million from the state. Those jobs had an average wage of $103,449, The News & Observer previously reported.
“Can we do one of these every year?” joked N.C. Commerce Secretary Tony Copeland at an announcement of the jobs at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center on Monday morning.
Last year, AveXis was bought by the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis for $8.7 billion, a move that Novartis said was made to gain control of AveXis’s rare-disease treatment, AVXS-101, which treats deadly spinal muscular atrophy. The company’s product, which has the brand name Zolgensma, is going through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s regulatory approval process.
Spinal muscular atrophy, often referred to as SMA, is a rare genetic disease that affects the part of the nervous system that controls voluntary muscle movement and can lead to death in young children.
AveXis, which is headquartered in Illinois, chose Durham over Illinois and Ireland for the expansion, the same locations it was competing against last year.
Durham County Commissioner Wendy Jacobs lauded the expansion for creating new jobs that weren’t just for highly educated college graduates. The county has continually stressed the importance of finding jobs for all Durham residents, not just the college graduates who have relocated to the city in recent years.
Twenty-five percent of the jobs do not require an advanced degree, she said.