Novavax, a Montgomery County-based clinical vaccine company, will add up to 850 jobs as a part of its expansion plan announced June 8.
Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett said the jobs will be located in the County.
Founded in 1987, Novavax works to develop vaccines for infectious diseases, such as influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and the Ebola virus, which resulted in the death of 11,325 people in West Africa from December of 2013 to May of 2016. Novavax has conducted more than 20 clinical trials focusing on these illnesses.
“The biotech industry is a priority industry that we want to support,” County Council President Nancy Floreen (D) said in a press conference Monday. “Of course at the end of the day, we’re looking towards jobs for our residents, expanding our tax pay, and that’s equally important. Those things have both come together in this regard.”
Novavax, which has its headquarters in Gaithersburg, will more than triple its employment of 400 full-time workers. In addition to creating hundreds of new jobs, Tom Lonergan, Gaithersburg’s economic and business development director, described these professions as, “precisely the kind of jobs that we like to see growing in the city.”
But in looking to find a new space for labs and manufacturing activities, Novavax sought out places both in and around Maryland. Montgomery County Economic Development’s Peter Bang said individuals from the city, county and state attempted to work together to provide enough support for Novavax to stay local without jeopardizing too much of their future gains from this company.
Novavax received $5 million in conditional loans from the Maryland Department of Commerce through the Maryland Economic Development Assistance Authority and Fund. Montgomery County plans to give a conditional grant to the company for up to $2.5 million, while the City of Gaithersburg allotted $50,000 to Novavax through the Economic Development Toolbox program. Bang said a majority of the money the county granted to Novavax came from its general funds, such as income and property taxes.
Novavax signed a lease in May to move into a 150,000-square-foot vacant building on 1201 Clopper Road, the company’s second facility space in Gaithersburg. The company’s other locations are in Rockville and Uppsala, Sweden. Novavax was not available to comment.
“This is what we do that provide good, stable jobs,” Lonergan said.
Karen Hood, media relations director for the Department of Commerce, said Novavax already fits in well in this area with federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration located in Bethesda and Silver Spring, respectively. Novavax can continue to work with these facilities to get different vaccines and clinical trials approved.
In addition to creating new jobs, Novavax’s impact will extend beyond the borders of Maryland, Hood said.
“These are highly skilled, highly technical jobs, so obviously these are going to carry much higher salaries,” Hood said. “They are not only able to help people in and around the state of Maryland and the United States. They’re able to assist with the disease throughout the world.”
Floreen said she hasn’t heard any feedback from residents regarding Novavax’s expansion. However, she added that individuals from the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce have been pleased with the County’s effort to create more employment opportunities.
“This is the future of Montgomery County,” Floreen said, “and we’re in the game.”