Unilife Corporation announces that it has secured U.S. government financial backing to support the construction of its new global headquarters and manufacturing facility in York, Pa. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has agreed to guarantee $10 million of an $18 million mortgage Unilife has now obtained from Metro Bank of Harrisburg to support construction of the 165,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility.
Unilife previously qualified for an additional $5.4 million in grants and loans from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the majority of which relates to the development of the York facility. The combined financial commitments by U.S. and Pennsylvania Government agencies represent approximately half of the total $31 million projected cost of the York facility.
"We wish to thank government leaders for their continued collaboration with Unilife, says Alan Shortall, CEO of Unilife. This round of government financial support improves our balance sheet and offers us access to capital under very favorable terms. The support and interest we have received at the federal and state level has been overwhelmingly positive. I believe this strong government backing reflects our status as a fast-growing Pennsylvania company that is committed to local high-skilled job creation, and the production of best-in-class syringes which can provide a safer environment for healthcare workers and enhanced care for patients."
Tom Williams, state director of the USDA, notes, "The USDA is working to ensure that rural communities have the tools they need to expand economic opportunity and improve their quality of life. The USDA congratulates Unilife on its strong life science investment into central Pennsylvania, bringing with it high-skill jobs in a high-tech, fast growing market sector."
To ensure facility construction timelines continue to align with the accelerated industrialization program for the Unifill ready-to-fill syringe, Unilife has already invested approximately $10 million of its own cash reserves in the project. The company does not expect it will be required to lay out any additional cash to finance the completion of the York facility.
Construction of the York facility remains fully on schedule for completion in late 2010. The facility has been designed by leading pharmaceutical architects to have the annual capacity to manufacture up to 400 million units of Unilife's proprietary range of safety syringes.
The York facility will feature world-class manufacturing, environmental control and material handling systems that will maximize overall production efficiencies and meet the highest pharmaceutical standards for primary drug containers. It will incorporate eight Class 8 (100,000) and three Class 7 (10,000) clean rooms where environmental factors such as temperature, humidity and particulate matter will be tightly controlled. An advanced Water-for-Injection (WFI) system will meet established pharmaceutical standards of water purity required for the production of the Unifill ready-to-fill syringe.
Additional amenities that further enhance Unilife's capacity to be a preferred supplier to pharmaceutical customers includes a product development center, a microbiology lab, quality inspection and control rooms and a fully segregated warehouse for efficient inventory management.
Since initial ground breaking commenced in December 2009, Unilife and its construction partners have made rapid progress in the development of the York facility. Activities completed to-date include the erection of all exterior walls and roofing, as well as the installation of cooling towers, piping and sprinklers in the 110,000 square foot production wing. Installation of clean rooms, air-conditioning and other essential systems in the production wing are also well under way, clearing the path for the scheduled installation of initial automated assembly lines and other production equipment later this year.
In addition, construction of the framework of the 54,000 square foot office wing, which will serve as Unilife's global headquarters and support management functions, has recently been completed. Unilife is targeting the relocation and consolidation of staff from its current Lewisberry sites to the new facility to occur in mid-December.
"We are excited by the progress we have made at the construction site for our new headquarters and manufacturing facility," Shortall says. "Despite construction starting in December 2009, which marked the beginning of one of the worst winters on record in Pennsylvania's history, the construction of the facility remains on schedule. We are confident that the facility will be ready for operations by the end of this year to align with the industrialization program for the Unifill syringe. This state-of-the-art facility, together with the rapid expansion of our operational capabilities and internal expertise, will help us meet anticipated demand for our products, and become a preferred, long-term supplier to a number of pharmaceutical companies."
Unilife has also secured zoning approval for a potential 100,000 square foot extension at the York facility that would increase total annual production capacity of the site to an optimal target of 1 billion units of Unilife's proprietary range of safety syringes.