Global glass manufacturer to build $371M plant, create 400 jobs in Wilson

SCHOTT Pharma USA, Inc., part of SHOTT Pharma AG, a global specialty glass manufacturer based in Germany, plans to invest $371 million over the next five years to build a new production facility in Wilson that would create 401 jobs and produce glass pre-fillable syringes and cartridges for biopharma companies.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper made the announcement on Monday, March 18, closely followed by a similar announcement from the company.

"SCHOTT’s decision to select our state for this important project shows once again that North Carolina is a global leader for biotechnology and life sciences,” Cooper said, in a news release.  “From our expertise in biomanufacturing to the proven education and training systems that are critical for workforce development, global companies recognize North Carolina’s clear advantages as a place to do business.”

SCHOTT Wilson rendering
Rendering of the Wilson facility.

At a special meeting earlier that day of the state Department of Commerce’s Economic Investment Committee (EIC), at which state incentives were approved, the state said the company expected the average wage at the facility to be $57,868. The average wage in Wilson County is $52,619.

SCHOTT Pharma positions in Wilson would include management, engineering, maintenance, management associate, quality assurance and quality control, logistics and administration.

“After conducting a nationwide search for a site that would give a campus-like option, Wilson County was chosen as a primary location to support our growth in the US,” said Christopher Cassidy, president of SCHOTT North America. “The local talent pool combined with the proximity to the Research Triangle area, which hosts numerous universities, pharma companies, and research institutions, are ideal factors for the future operation of the company.”

SCHOTT Pharma AG is a global manufacturer and supplier of containment solutions and delivery systems for injectable drugs, with over 4,700 employees from 65 nations at 17 manufacturing sites in Europe, the Americas, and Asia. SCHOTT Pharma USA is a subsidiary and has a facility in Lebanon, PA, that processes a wide range of glass pharmaceutical packaging for North America. 

The Wilson facility will be SCHOTT Pharma's first in the US to manufacture high-performance, pre-fillable polymer syringes while simultaneously adding to the nation’s limited pool of pre-fillable glass syringes, the state said. 

“As drug manufacturers develop and expand the use of mRNA, GLP-1, and other biologic therapies that require precise drug stability and storage properties, SCHOTT Pharma will be able to fill those orders quickly and efficiently here in the US,” said Andreas Reisse, CEO of SCHOTT Pharma. “The impact of this facility will go far beyond local job creation in North Carolina and will relieve stress on the entire pharmaceutical industry supply chain.”

This project will expand the domestic supply chain for these in-demand syringes to deliver mRNA, GLP-1, and other therapeutic areas that require precise storage and transport properties. The Wilson location will produce glass products for biopharma companies and contract development and manufacturing organizations.

“For most of my professional career, I worked in the life science industry, so it’s especially gratifying to see how much momentum North Carolina enjoys right now with this critical sector,” said NC Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders.  “I know firsthand the importance of specialized workforce training for this and other industries, and we will continue to invest in North Carolina’s world-class training programs that support companies like SCHOTT Pharma.”

The top 30 global pharma companies and more than 1,800 customers rely on SCHOTT Pharma containers and systems, the company said. Many of these companies have designated SCHOTT Pharma as a critical supplier of one or more of the most essential components within their supply chain. On average, more than 25,000 injections per minute are provided to patients worldwide through a product produced by SCHOTT Pharma.

“SCHOTT Pharma is a welcome addition to North Carolina’s life sciences community as their products are an essential part of the pharmaceutical supply chain,” said Laura Rowley, PhD, vice president of life sciences economic development for the North Carolina Biotechnology Center. “Their strengths are a perfect complement to the existing life sciences manufacturing operations in the state.”  

SCHOTT syringes
SCHOTT Pharma pre-fillable polymer syringes.

The location in Wilson is a cleared parcel along Interstate 587. Wilson sits east of the Research Triangle, between Rocky Mount to the north and Goldsboro to the south. The facility would be entirely new construction. SCHOTT expects the new facility to be up and running in about three years.

"Wilson and the surrounding Eastern region have become more and more appealing to biopharma companies, and related support companies, looking to locate there and take advantage of an abundance of utilities, a skilled workforce, and exceptional training programs," said Mark Phillips, vice president of statewide operations and Eastern Region Office executive director for NCBiotech. "We welcome the addition of SCHOTT Pharma to the BioPharma Crescent region, home to one of the largest concentrations of biopharma manufacturing along the east coast. We look forward to working further with them as they build their facility and become part of our biopharma manufacturing ecosystem in North Carolina." 

SCHOTT’s history dates back more than 140 years, since its founding in 1884 by Otto Schott, a glass chemist; Ernst Abbe, a physicist, and precision mechanic Carl Zeiss. Several years later, they established a unique corporate governance model, forming the Carl Zeiss Foundation to own Zeiss’s optical company and SCHOTT independent of owner interests, giving employees special social rights and promoting scientific and social institutions outside the companies. Today, SCHOTT AG and Carl Zeiss AG are legally independent stock corporations whose one stockholder is the Carl Zeiss Foundation. 

SCHOTT has production facilities and sales offices in 33 countries, including the US, with over 17,200 employees. It has operated in the US for more than 60 years. The company is focused on sustainability and boasts a goal to be the first specialty glass manufacturer to become carbon neutral by 2030.

State incentives, tied to employment and other milestones, total $6.4 million. Included are further state incentives such as $641,600 in knowledge training from the North Carolina Community College system and $831,000 in workforce solutions (NC Job Ready funds, Work Opportunity Tax Credit and Federal Bonding through the Dept. of Commerce’s Division of Workforce Solutions). 

Local and county incentives, which cover everything from infrastructure and utilities, could total $16.2 million. The project’s projected return on investment of public dollars is 221 percent, meaning for every dollar of potential cost to the state, the state receives $3.21 in state revenue. 

The EIC said that the company had considered a range of incentives and offers from South Carolina, including direct grants and property tax savings.

The NC Department of Commerce led the state’s support for the company during its site evaluation and decision-making process. Partnering with Dept. of Commerce and the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina on this project were the North Carolina General Assembly, the NC Community College System, Commerce’s Division of Workforce Solutions, Wilson County, the City of Wilson, and the Wilson Economic Development Council. NCBiotech provided technical assistance.

Chris Capot, NCBiotech
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