Texas Makes Move to Lure Companies to the State to Enhance Its Biotech Industry

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During his two years in office, former Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos flexed the muscles of his office to make recruiting biotech and pharma companies a priority.

During an interview with BioSpace two years ago, Pablos shares his strategy for luring the biotech industry to the Lone Star State, which included not only touting the state’s business-friendly climate, but also the existing biotech infrastructure in the state, such as The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center or Texas Children’s Hospital. During that interview conducted at the 2017 BIO convention in San Diego, Pablos said the delegation he led to the week-long event was reaching out to U.S.-based companies as well as foreign trade leaders for potential deals.

The legwork Pablos helped put in place, has made Texas a popular hub for companies to set up shop. But the recruitment mission that Pablos was on two years ago at BIO, continues. Recently, in San Antonio, incentive packages were approved to transform a former warehouse into VelocityTx’s new life sciences innovation center. According to the report, VelocityTX anticipates the renovated space to become an “anchor for a larger innovation district” in the city. As it grows, VelocityTX anticipates such a district could support up to 660 jobs.

That life sciences center in San Antonio isn’t the only recruitment being undertaken in Texas. Robert Allen, president and chief executive officer of the Texas Economic Development Corp., has been big game hunting in the Bay Area. In a recent interview with the San Francisco Business Times, Allen said he was sharing the benefits of life in Texas for companies, including tax advantages for corporations, as well as a lack of no personal income taxes. Allen said that’s a message that typically goes over well in states like California that have higher taxes and high costs of living.

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Recently, two Bay Area giants announced their intentions to move to Texas. In November, healthcare giant McKesson announced plans to move its headquarters to Las Colinas, Texas. The company said the move will allow it to expand on its presence in the Dallas area. McKesson’s Las Colinas campus is already a key hub for the company and the move is expected to be completed by April 1. In September, Core-Mark Holding Co. also announced plans to leave San Francisco for Dallas. According to CNS News, CEO Scott McPherson said moving to Dallas will provide savings in operating costs, lower taxes and is more central to what the company does as a nationwide business.

It’s that kind of success in bagging big game like McKesson and Core-Mark that Allen was hoping to build upon during his visit to the Bay Area. The Business Times said Allen had not only set his sights on large companies, but also small and mid-sized organizations as well. Allen did not disclose which companies he was speaking with during his trip, the Business Times added.

While Allen and others promote Texas as a potential home for companies, there have been a few setbacks for the area as well. In November, Allergan announced plans to halt a planned $200 million investment in its Waco, Texas plant that manufactures the company’s second-best-selling drug, Restasis (cyclosporine ophthalmic emulsion), a treatment for dry eyes. The company halted the expansion, which would have increased production capacity by more than 50 percent and created more than 100 jobs, due to fallout from a scheme to transfer the patent rights to the drug to the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe in New York in order to stave off competition.

In September, Alcon, the Novartis eye care business, announced it was leaving its longtime home of Texas for Switzerland. The company said it will move its corporate headquarters from Fort Worth to Geneva following the spinoff from Novartis. The Swiss city will be the primary home for Alcon's senior corporate leadership and other corporate and commercial functions.

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