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Thermo Fisher inaugurates $44M plant, boosting Utah’s biotech sector

By Tim Vandenack - | Apr 20, 2022
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Numerous leaders assist with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday, April 20, 2022, for a new Thermo Fisher Scientific facility in Ogden. Pictured, from left, are Utah Sen. John Johnson, Ogden City Council members Angela Choberka and Ken Richey, U.S. Rep. Blake Moore, Ogden City Councilperson Luis Lopez, Thermo Fisher executive Chad Dale, U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney, Thermo Fisher executive Paul Parker, U.S. Sen. Mike Lee and Thermo Fisher executive Mitch Kennedy.
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From left, U.S. Sens. Mike Lee and Mitt Romney, U.S. Rep. Blake Moore, Kori Ann Edwards of the Utah Governor's Office of Economic Opportunity and Ogden City Councilperson Luis Lopez attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new Thermo Fisher Scientific facility in Ogden on Wednesday, April 20, 2022.
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Mitch Kennedy, Thermo Fisher Scientific president of single-use technologies for bio-production, speaks at a ceremony to inaugurate the firm's new plant in Ogden on Wednesday, April 20, 2022.
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Paul Parker, Thermo Fisher Scientific senior vice president of strategy and corporate development for bio-production, speaks at a ceremony to inaugurate the firm's new plant in Ogden on Wednesday, April 20, 2022.

OGDEN -- A new manufacturing plant that makes products key in the development of new vaccines and other medical therapies is up and running in Ogden after about a year and $44 million worth of upgrades.

Company reps and leaders see the new Thermo Fisher Scientific facility as a boost to Utah's biotech sector and an important cog in advancing development of life-saving vaccines and therapies. Within Utah, the multinational company also has operations in Logan and employs 2,000 in all throughout the state. Of the Utah total, around 300 work in Ogden with around 150 posts in the city yet to be filled.

"This was basically an empty shell. We had a lot of hopes and dreams," Chad Dale, vice president of operations in bio-production for Thermo Fisher, said Wednesday. "To see it come to fruition over the last 12 months has been absolutely amazing."

Thermo Fisher announced plans last June to open a facility inside Business Depot Ogden that would employ 450. The work on the new facility is complete, and officials held a press conference Wednesday to unveil the new facility, cheered on by U.S. Sens. Mike Lee and Mitt Romney, U.S. Rep. Blake Moore, many other local leaders and plant employees.

The expansion here is part of a broader $650 million Thermo Fisher global investment plan, announced in 2021, to bolster production of materials used to develop biologics and vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines.

"It's not every day or every place that you can come to work to be part of saving lives. Ogden, you are now delivering life-saving therapies to the world, so thank you," said Caleb Jones. He's the Ogden site leader and an associate director of manufacturing operations in bio-production for Thermo Fisher.

Moore used the occasion to underscore the importance of the manufacturing sector in Northern Utah. "Why do we come out of every economic downturn better than any other place in the nation? It's manufacturing," Moore said.

Romney had previously spoken to Thermo Fisher Chief Executive Officer Marc Casper about the firm's plans in Utah, asking why company officials have focused expansion plans in the state. "He said, 'Very simple, it's the quality of the workforce,'" Romney said. "'They take pride in the work they do, they want to see the job done well.' ... He said this is not something you see all over the country."

Thermo Fisher's 55,000-square-foot Ogden facility makes what are known as bioprocess container systems, or BPCs. "These BPCs are used for the delivery, processing, separation, storage and transportation of critical liquids and readily integrate into systems across all steps in the production of life-saving biologics, vaccines and cell and gene therapies," the company said in a statement.

Lee called the Ogden expansion an investment in Utah's biotech sector and "the thriving communities of our state. Utah, he went on, "is a high-tech hub for businesses seeking an educated, dedicated workforce."

Thermo Fisher's expansion aims to help meet demand for bioprocessing equipment. The company didn't receive any state or local incentives for the $44 million Ogden expansion, according to local and state economic development reps.

"We've been expanding around the globe because the need for medicine, more effective medicines, is certainly increasing in our population," said Mitch Kennedy, president for single-use technologies in bio-production for Thermo Fisher. The Ogden facility currently employs 300 but is designed to hold 450 employees "so we have hiring to go."

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