Illumina Moving Forward With San Diego Expansion, 300 New Jobs
December 3, 2014
By Riley McDermid, BioSpace.com Breaking News Sr. Editor
Life science biotech Illumina, Inc. is moving forward with its planned 150,000 square foot facility in San Diego, confirming to BioSpace late Tuesday that it will still be adding 300 manufacturing jobs as it expands its current space in San Diego’s University Towne Centre.
Illumina spokesperson Gwen Gordon said the company would not provide a timeline for hiring but San Diego development officials have said they expect the project to commence in 2015.
Illumina, which also has its headquarters in San Diego neighborhood Carroll Park, said it will use the new space to make supplies for its DNA sequencing equipment. Illumina will also get a rebate of up to $1.5 million in sales taxes as a lure from city officials to stay put in the area.
“We’re excited to continue to grow a state-of-the-art campus that will not only contribute to Illumina’s success, but also contribute to the growth of San Diego’s life sciences community, to the advancement of genetic research, and ultimately to help people around the globe realize the benefits of personalized medicine,” said Jay Flatley, Illumina's CEO, when the expansion was announced announced in July.
Illumina has long been a staple of the San Diego business community, and with a market capitalization of $20 billion, it is easily the highest-valued biotech company in San Diego County. The company currently has around 1,000 employees in six leased buildings in San Diego, which adds up to over 560,000 square feet of office and industrial space.
Dubbed the World’s Smartest Company” by MIT Technology Review after the company sequenced the human genome for under $1,000 a person in early 2014, Illumina beat out competitors like Tesla Motors and Google for the title.
It now has offices on almost every continent, but has said that although it considered moving to Memphis, Tenn., last year, it will double down on San Diego after a renewed effort from city officials to make it feel welcome via lucrative tax breaks.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said the agreement keeps middle class jobs in the area while keeping San Diego’s reputation as a biotech engine relevant and timely.
“This agreement keeps hundreds of high wage jobs in San Diego, ensures city residents benefit from over a million dollars in annual sales tax revenue, and strengthens our region’s leadership in biotechnology,” said Faulconer.
Currently 100 employees work at Illumina’s 60,000 square-foot building in Carroll Park, but Marc Stapley, the company’s chief financial officer, told the city’s Union Tribune in July that the addition would be a much-needed amount of space for its growing workforce.
“The site we’re adding at our headquarters is 150,000 square feet,” Stapley said. “And that’s going to house a lot more than those 100 employees.”
University Towne Centre is already well-hyped for its life sciences developer BioMed Realty Trust. That company is in the midst of creating its i3 development, a 307,660 square-foot project that hopes to add huge amounts of laboratory space to an already-crowded real estate market.
San Diego is the country’s third largest biotech destination, behind the Boston/Cambridge area and the San Francisco Bay Area. San Diego alone currently has around 16.3 million square feet of life sciences inventory, but has only a 13.6 percent vacancy rate in lab space in the UTC area, a significant dip from the 15.9 percent open in 2014, according to a report in San Diego paper The Daily Transcript.