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Archive for Saturday, January 7, 2006

A tough loss

The loss of the company that local residents hoped would anchor future bioscience business in Lawrence

January 7, 2006

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The announcement that Serologicals Corp. has decided not to open a $33 million biomanufacturing plant in Lawrence is a major disappointment.

When the company showcased its new manufacturing plant in the East Hill Business Park in July 2004, community leaders touted the facility's benefits as "almost immeasurable." The company, which manufactures a blood product used in drugs and research, was hailed as a future hub for life sciences business development in Lawrence, a firm that would supply high-paying jobs for dozens of Lawrence residents. The company won awards and received city approval for an 80 percent property tax abatement.

The company's promise when it announced its local plant in late 2002 seemed limitless, but for various reasons, that promise will not be realized in Lawrence. The company announced recently that it would not base a distribution site in Lawrence. Friday the company announced its manufacturing needs for the foreseeable future would be met by its expanded plant in Kankakee, Ill. Serologicals will leave behind its sizable investment in Lawrence and prepare its $33 million plant for sale.

It's a business decision for Serologicals, but for Lawrence, it's a disappointing, even emotional, loss. It's a setback for those who are trying to encourage Kansans to buy into the idea that bioscience-related business is the best path for future economic development in the state. And it's difficult to accept that a company the community worked so hard to attract and support now will simply pack its bags and leave.

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