Merck to Invest $1 Billion in Virginia Facility, Add 100 Jobs

Merck logo on large outdoor sign

Merck & Company is planning a $1 billion expansion to its manufacturing facility in Elkton, Va. over the course of the next three years that will include the addition of approximately 100 new jobs, the office of the governor of Virginia announced Wednesday.

Merck will add 120,000 square feet to its existing 1.1 million-square-foot operation in Elkton in order to increase the production of its Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines.

For Merck, the expanded focus on the HPV vaccine comes about a month after the company announced a collaboration with Tessa Therapeutics. The companies will pair Tessa's armored human papillomavirus-specific T cell (HPVST) therapy with Merck’s vaunted checkpoint inhibitor, Keytruda as a potential treatment for patients with recurrent or metastatic HPV 16 and 18-positive cervical cancer.

Merck has operated its Elkton manufacturing plant in Rockingham County for over 75 years and currently employs approximately 900 workers at the site. This the latest expansion for the Merck site. In 2016, the company invested $170 million into an expansion of the facility.

Merck’s expansion of the manufacturing facility is supported, in part, by state-funded grants that will support stormwater and infrastructure upgrades that are necessary to support the expansion of the facility. The company is also eligible to receive Sales and Use tax exemptions on manufacturing equipment, as well as a Major Business Facility Job Tax Credit for new, full-time jobs created, the office of the governor said.

Gov. Ralph Northam said the billion dollar investment in Rockingham County is a symbol of the global pharma giant’s commitment to the region and will support further economic growth in the area.

“Merck has long been a valued employer and important corporate steward in Virginia that continues to play a vital role in advancing the 21st-century manufacturing sector in our commonwealth,” Northam said.

Sanat Chattopadhyay, president of Merck Manufacturing Division, said the company is grateful for its partnership with the local and commonwealth governments. That partnership will help Merck sustain its commitment to the area’s economic growth, Chattopadhyay said in a brief statement.

In addition to the expansion of the facility, Merck will also form a partnership with Blue Ridge Community College and James Madison University to groom potential future employees for the company. The partnership is aimed at addressing short- and long-term employment needs at the company. BRCC and JMU will establish a pipeline of biotechnology engineering and computer science talent that will allow the Shenandoah Valley to accommodate the future growth of Merck and other life science industries and manufacturers in the region. Northam said the collaboration between Merck and the academic programs will ensure we have a pipeline of skilled talent in the Shenandoah Valley for decades to come.

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