Lilly Building $474M Pharma Factory in RTP, Hiring 462 Workers

Editor's Note: Updated with Oct. 19, 2020 career open house information at bottom.

Lilly logo

Global pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Company will build its first North Carolina manufacturing facility in the Durham County portion of Research Triangle Park, investing $474 million and creating 462 new jobs.

The 143-year-old Indianapolis-based company made the announcement today in a news conference at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, led by Gov. Roy Cooper. Lilly officials said they chose North Carolina over competing sites in Indianapolis and Philadelphia, primarily because of the state’s workforce capabilities.

Lilly CEO Dave Ricks told the audience of some 100 business, government and life science leaders that the newly constructed manufacturing factory on the Parmer campus across T.W. Alexander Drive from the Biotech Center will be state of the art. He said the integrated life science manufacturing facility will incorporate automation, robotics and data analytics to handle drug formulation and filling through final packaging of both marketed and late-stage pipeline candidates.

The jobs come with average annual wages of about $73,000, just over the Durham County average of $71,756. More than half of the new jobs will pay at least $49,000 to start. The company said it plans to start hiring this year (see Open House information below), but not in significant numbers before 2023.

CEO Dave Ricks
CEO Dave Ricks. -- Eli Lilly photo

Initially the site will produce two major diabetes drugs: Trulicity, an injectable approved in 2014, and Tirzepatide, which is still in development, especially targeting diabetes patients with increased heart disease risk.

When the firm meets all its investment and job milestones, it will reap $8.7 million in a state Job Development Investment Grant incentive, $1.2 million in community college training and $2.6 million from Durham County.  

Lilly employs 33,000 people worldwide, 135 of them in North Carolina as part of its sales team. It had an Elanco animal health facility for a short time in Greensboro, which it closed a couple of years ago. It also dipped into the state to buy Durham's Sphinx Pharmaceuticals in 1994.

Sphinx was spun out of a Duke University biochemistry lab in 1987 with the support of $403,416 in Biotech Center loans. The company attracted $16 million in venture capital and in 1991 raised $75 million in an IPO – at the time the largest IPO in state history.

Three years later Lilly bought Sphinx for $76 million, and Lilly built a new, $40 million drug research center in Research Triangle Park that created more than 100 high-paying jobs. Lilly subsequently shut that site down in 2005.

First virtual open house Oct. 19

Lilly has scheduled a virtual open house Monday Oct. 19 from 5 to 7 p.m. Eastern time, for people interested in learning about employment opportunities at the RTP site. The company is asking people to log in at 5, but will then allow some time for participants to overcome any technical problems and make sure all connections are working properly before beginning the formal program.

The company says it is looking for "skilled individuals with an engineering, science, or operations degree and/or relevant work experiences. The job opportunities in North Carolina offer hourly as well as professional level positions. We hope to include them in our mission of delivering a reliable supply of life-changing medicines across the world."

People interested in participating in the event should click on the company's RSVP site to register. Lilly has also begun listing specific job openings for the RTP site on its careers web page.

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