WINDSOR, CT — Arkansas-based SCA Pharmaceuticals opened its new location in Windsor last week and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal visited the facility Monday to help cut the ribbon and make it official.
News media were not allowed to tour the facility or watch the ribbon cutting due to what the company described as “security concerns.”
The pharmaceutical compounding facility, which plans to produce 10 million doses next year, is leasing 90,000 square feet of space off Rainbow Road approximately two-minutes from Bradley International Airport. The proximity to the airport was a key factor in its decision to open a production facility in Windsor.
Brenden Roche, senior marketing director for the company, said Connecticut is largely safe from the threat of hurricanes and tornadoes, and air travel is rarely impacted for more than a day even in an occasional winter storm.
“There’s never a reason we can’t get two-minutes to the airport,” Roche said.
He said they can also ship things ground to their client base, which is largely on the east coast.
The Arkansas facility is only 17,000 square feet with sterile compounding laboratories which contain five horizontal and vertical flow laminar hoods. It employs 210 people. The Windsor facility has 15 laminar hoods and is expected to employ 361 by the end of next year.
The state, through the Department of Economic and Community Development, will support the project with an $8.5 million loan for leasehold improvements and the purchase of machinery and equipment. The funding was approved by the state Bond Commission in May.
The company is already beginning to experience some growing pains, according to Roche.
They’ve already hired well over 100 workers for the Windsor facility and are beginning to feel a little crowded.
“This is our first full day of production and we’re already out of seats to put people in,” Roche said.
Most of the facility is taken up with clean rooms where the drugs are compounded and then tested to make sure they meet the federal Food and Drug Administration regulations.
What makes the company competitive is the ability to meet those regulations under one roof, Roche said.
He said they’re also looking at some potential automation that will fill about 10,000 syringes per hour. He said they have about 900 product line numbers even though they don’t manufacture all of them on a regular basis.
“We’re not growing as many jobs as we’d like, but we’ve also changed how we report that,” Malloy said.
He said by not seasonally adjusting the job numbers they’re seeing a downturn in the travel and hospitality industry play itself out as winter approaches.
In October, according to preliminary data, Connecticut lost 6,600 jobs.
Malloy said the jobs being created at SCA Pharmaceuticals are “high paying jobs” and most of the workers have an engineering or science degree.
He said at first blush it’s hard to understand why a company from Arkansas wants to expand in Connecticut.
“But when you understand what they’re producing — a high value-added, very technical product — it does make a lot of sense,” Malloy said. “I think this is a great investment for the state. As they prove their success here we’re hoping other companies will follow suit.”
He said this “helps us prove the economics of production in Connecticut.”
Connecticut has been trying to make a name for itself in the biosciences with its investment in Jackson Laboratories.