RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – In biochemistry lingo, an “active site” refers to a spot on an enzyme that can produce a chemical reaction when a molecule binds to it.

In economic development lingo, an “active site” can be a land parcel and/or a building that is on the market and ready to be turned into a productive business location.

Image courtesy NCBiotech Cnter

New brochure promotes eastern NC as an “Active Site”
for pharmaceutical manufacturing.

The Pitt County Development Commission (PCDC) and partner organizations are packaging the “Active Site” theme and taking it on the road, to make sure the region is on the radar of any pharmaceutical company planning an expansion or a new manufacturing facility.

Put the two together, and you have Pitt County — the area in and around Greenville that has become a serious global magnet for pharmaceutical manufacturing.

Taking the “Active Site” idea to its “punultimate” extension, the PCDC website promises, “we can create a positive reaction and form a long term bond with companies that choose the Greenville, NC MSA as their location.”

Besides the development commission, the “Active Site” coalition includes the North Carolina Biotechnology Center’s Eastern Office and the North Carolina Pharmaceutical Services Network facilities at Pitt Community College and East Carolina University.  Partnering counties include Johnston, Wilson, and Nash, where nearly 10,000 employees work directly in pharmaceutical production.  Together, they are branding themselves as the BioPharma Crescent.

“The BioPharma Crescent is energized by its success in building a critical mass of medicine makers,” said Wanda Yuhas, PCDC executive director.  More than $3 billion in capital investments have been announced by pharmaceutical companies in these counties.

Farm country becoming known as pharma country

“The economy throughout much of eastern North Carolina is evolving,” added Mark Phillips, NCBiotech’s vice president of statewide operations and executive director of its Eastern Region Office.

“What once was considered almost exclusively “farm country” is now enjoying increased global recognition as ‘pharma country,’ bringing new opportunities and optimism. It’s fed by an increasingly skilled workforce, abundant infrastructure, supportive policymakers and attractive business costs and life quality.”

PCDC cites several key factors that make it an “Active Site:”

  • A 50-year head start in pharmaceutical infrastructure development
  • Plentiful skilled workforce with a laborshed of 23 counties
  • One-of-a-kind pharmaceutical training developed by industry
  • Unparalleled abundance of water resources
  • Reliable, redundant, affordable power
  • Fast-track, “Concierge” permitting with one point of contact
  • Room to grow with a growing metro area between Raleigh and the Outer Banks

These components, along with ECU as the requisite academic anchor, replete with its medical school and growing college of engineering, help explain the presence of such major players as ThermoFisher Scientific, Mayne Pharma, Fresenius Kabi, Merck, Pfizer, Purdue Pharma, Sandoz, CMP Pharma, RTI Surgical and others, noted Yuhas.

She’s putting site selectors working for pharmaceutical companies on notice: Eastern North Carolina is an Active Site.