BioMérieux holds groundbreaking for new Durham production line

Jul. 09, 2014 @ 10:57 PM

BioMérieux held a groundbreaking at its U.S. headquarters in Durham County on Wednesday to mark the start of construction on a project that will boost the plant’s capacity for making a test that can detect bacteria in blood.

“The demand is only growing; we’re on back-order now,” said Aaron Rice, senior manager and project lead for the construction project. “We can’t grow enough.”
The French diagnostics company is planning to invest $48 million in a new, two-story, 30,000-square-foot building at the site of the company’s existing production plant in Durham County’s Treyburn Corporate Park.
The building will allow the company to add a fourth new manufacturing line to the plant, where it makes a BacT/Alert 3D test to detect blood-borne bacterial infections.
The company is building the line in response to increased demand, said Rice, after a tour of the company’s existing plant. The plant manufactures the tests for the company globally.
Rice said the company has worked to make the production process on the new line more efficient, requiring fewer human hands. He also said it will require fewer additional jobs since they already have existing support staff.
The new, fourth production line is expected to generate an additional 44 jobs. Currently, Jones said the company employs more than 750 people in Durham County between the plant and another building nearby that houses customer service and other staff.
The new line is expected to be operational in the first quarter of 2017, said Stefan Willemsen, president and CEO for bioMérieux Americas. Although they expect to finish construction next year, he said it takes time to go through a U.S. Food and Drug Administration validation process.
“This new production line for our BacT/ALERT blood culture bottles represents a significant investment for our Durham manufacturing facility,” Willemsen said in a statement.
In addition to Willemsen, other leaders at the groundbreaking included company CEO Alexandre Mérieux, N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory, and Durham County Commissioner Fred Foster.
To help finance the expansion, bioMérieux won commitments of $400,000 in performance-based incentives from the Durham County Board of Commissioners and up to $220,000 from the state.