If the Northeastern Pennsylvania Regional Bioscience Initiative wants to tout a success story, officials could use a specific company, hospital or college. Or, they could point to the CenterPoint Commerce & Trade Park in Jenkins and Pittston Townships. ‚?Ę Since 2007, seven companies with ties to the life-, health- or bio-science sectors have located in CenterPoint buildings developed by Mericle Commercial Real Estate Services. Those seven companies employ close to 800 people, according to Mericle spokesman Jim Cummings.
Cummings, who serves on the NEPA RBI roundtable focusing on logistics, said having quality existing space and sites available will be a key factor in the overall success of the regional initiative. That enterprise was the basis of a public forum on Jan. 7 at The Commonwealth Medical College in Scranton.
Bringing together elected officials, educators, hospital, health care and economic development leaders, the forum sought to update the region on the initiative‚??s progress and its next steps.
While plans for the future are being made, CenterPoint continues to do just fine on its own in not only attracting these sorts of companies but watching them expand once they get to Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Corning Life Sciences is a case in point.
The developer, manufacturer, and global supplier of scientific laboratory equipment, agreed to lease an additional 124,000 square feet of industrial space from Mericle in CenterPoint East.
Since 2010, Corning Life Sciences has leased 396,800 square feet of space at 160 Research Drive in the commerce and trade park. The expansion will bring the total space occupied by the company to 520,800 square feet.
Mericle crews have begun putting the roof on the 124,000 square foot section. Corning is expected to move into the expansion area by mid-February, Cummings said. A spokesman for the company did not respond to a request for comments.
In addition to Corning, companies that have located in CenterPoint in recent years that have ties to the sciences include:
‚?Ę C3i, a leading provider of technology enablement and business process outsourcing services for the life sciences industry, leases approximately 41,000 square feet to receive, repair, and distribute computers used by life sciences professionals including Sanofi Pasteur.
‚?Ę A joint venture between Geisinger Health Systems and LifeSource, a division of the Institute for Transfusion Medicine began collecting and distributing blood in the new Geisinger Blood Center last year.
‚?Ę KCI, Inc., a medical technology company devoted to the discovery, development, manufacture and marketing of innovative, high-technology therapies, products and medical devices used for wound care, tissue regeneration and therapeutic support system markets, leases space.
‚?Ę Patterson Dental, a distributor of dental products, equipment and technology.
‚?Ę Cintas‚?? First Aid and Safety Division offers van delivered first aid supplies, safety products, AEDs, and CPR/AED/first aid training to help businesses improve productivity through worker safety and reduce workers‚?? compensation costs.
‚?Ę In 2010, Benco Dental opened its new corporate headquarters and distribution center in CenterPoint East. The building has a total usable area of 272,800 square feet making it ‚??the largest dental equipment showroom in North America,‚?Ě according to company President Chuck Cohen.
Cummings said that Mericle is not about to slow down even with its success in landing such companies.
‚??We plan to develop office space in the park in the near future. We believe that always having a variety of space available is critically important if we want to continue to be competitive within the life sciences and medical sectors,‚?Ě Cummings said.
Ross G. Macarty, vice president of community development, real estate and special projects, said this region‚??s access to interstate highways is a huge selling pitch and being able to sweeten the pot by mentioning all the available real estate makes it even more attractive.
When CVS Caremark was looking to open a pharmaceutical mail order center one of the reasons it chose the Hanover Crossing business park was that Wilkes University had a successful pharmacy school, McCarty said.
‚??It was a ginormous selling point,‚?Ě McCarty said.
Bill Moore, the president of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry, said by getting more and more symbiotic relationships established, it will only lead to continued growth.
He said setting a goal of a bioscience research center might not be immediately attainable but it‚??s not out of the realm of possibilities.
‚??We can be a center of excellence that becomes very attractive to the industry and eventually we can become a research center,‚?Ě Moore said.
McCarty said that he can envision a day when this area is a hot spot for high tech jobs and ‚??we can keep our high tech students and attract others from outside of the area.‚?Ě
State Sen. John Blake, who has taken an active role in the Northeastern Pennsylvania Regional Bioscience Initiative and organized the recent forum at the Commonwealth Medical College, noted that the region‚??s primed to be a hub for the industry.
‚??The Bioscience -‚??or Lifescience ‚?? industry is diverse and, following a period of contraction in the recent economic recession, is growing again,‚?Ě Blake, D-Archbald, said.
‚??Drugs and pharmaceuticals; medical devices and equipment; research and development laboratories; clinical research and trials; as well as chemicals and biomaterials, are all industry sectors where Northeastern Pennsylvania assets, academic resources and skills can be mobilized to attract more private and foreign direct investment as well as a greater share of federal and state research funding. Those are the outcomes upon which this Regional Bioscience Initiative is focused,‚?Ě the senator added.