BD to Add Up To $30M, 22-Job Processing Site to Four Oaks Campus

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BD, a global medical device manufacturer with four North Carolina sites, including an East Coast distribution center in the Johnston County community of Four Oaks, today announced plans for a potential $30 million expansion there that will create 22 new jobs.

Founded in 1897 as Becton, Dickinson & Company, BD is one of the world’s largest medical technology companies. Headquartered in Franklin Lakes, N.J., it has more than 75,000 employees worldwide and a presence in most countries. The three other facilities in North Carolina besides the Four Oaks site are in Research Triangle Park, Durham and Mebane.

Construction of the new 30,000-square-foot processing facility is expected to begin next year, with operations commencing by late 2024. New jobs there will include engineers, machine operators, material handlers and other positions earning an average of just over $83,000 a year..

BD Four Oaks Dist Building
BD's Four Oaks distribution facility. -- Johnston County photo

It will join the company’s 720,000-square-foot, 300-employee distribution center that was established in 2010 in the Four Oaks Business Park. It is planned to give BD the ability to provide a high-tech sterilization process to medical products such as ready-to-use (RU) vials and syringes. The process, called electron-beam irradiation (e-beam, sometimes called beta irradiation) is typically used to sterilize pharmaceutical packaging products and medical devices. It operates by directing a continuous flow of electrons through the articles being sterilized. Transfer of energy from the e-beam breaks the chains of DNA in organisms, rendering them inactive, and the articles irradiated as sterile.

Compared to steam sterilization, e-beam operates at a much lower temperature, and is suitable for products having hard-to-reach areas, such as capped cartridges. Compared to gamma irradiation, another sterilization technique, e-beam poses a lower risk of degradation due to shorter exposure times. Compared to sterilization processes using ethylene oxide, it eliminates the risk of ethylene oxide absorption and subsequent leaching into drug product.

“BD already has a strong presence in North Carolina — with four facilities and more than 1,000 employees across the state — and we look forward to growing our investment in the state and the town of Four Oaks with this new facility,” said Travis Anderton, vice president at BD. “We considered multiple locations across the United States, and a combination of our existing presence in North Carolina, proximity to one of our distribution centers and the incentives provided by Johnston County were the determining factors to locate in Four Oaks. We’d like to thank the Johnston County Economic Development Office and the county and municipal officials who helped collaborate with BD to locate our facility here.”

An 'excellent corporate citizen'

“BD is an excellent corporate citizen and we’re delighted to see this continued growth in North Carolina,” said Katie Stember, Ph.D., director of life science economic development with the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, who helped provide technical support for the project.

The expansion announcement came after a special public meeting of the Johnston County Board of Commissioners and the Four Oaks Town Council at the Four Oaks Town Hall, regarding approval of an economic development incentive grant. The county commission also announced a public hearing would be held later in the day, at its regularly scheduled meeting, on a proposed grant to incentivize a 250,000-square-foot, $25 million speculative building for life sciences or advanced manufacturing in Smithfield. The developer isn’t named, but the development is code named Project Neyer.

“Advanced manufacturing and life sciences are cornerstones of the 21st century economy, and these two dynamic sectors are coming together in a major way in Johnston County,” said R.S. "Butch" Lawter, Jr., chairman of the Johnston County Board of Commissioners. “BD is among the leading medical device makers in the world, and we’re proud the company has chosen Four Oaks Business Park as the backdrop for its latest round of growth.”

'Says all the right things'

Four Oaks Mayor Vic Medlin added, "When existing industries reinvest here with an announcement this size, it says all the right things about our community. BD has brought new energy and economic diversification to Four Oaks since establishing their distribution operations at Four Oaks Business Park in 2010. The company's latest investment here adds momentum to our vision for growing advanced manufacturing jobs."

Construction of BD’s facility alone could spur $18 million in one-time economic impact, according to an analysis by Michael Walden, Ph.D., William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor Emeritus at North Carolina State University and President of Walden Economic Consulting, LLC.

The site will also add $15 million to Johnston County’s annual GDP and result in more than $157,000 in county and municipal tax revenues each year, Walden found.

“This exciting announcement grows our life sciences industry and extends it to the I-95 corridor,” said Randy Jones, chairman of the Johnston County Economic Development Advisory Board. “What BD is doing will have an important impact well beyond the Town of Four Oaks -- boosting the Research Triangle’s biotechnology brand and underscoring the rising prominence of the BioPharma Crescent.”

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