NEWPORT CITY – About 200 jobs are slated to come to the state’s most economically hardest hit area, the Northeast Kingdom. The jobs will be created by AnC Bio Vermont, which is part of AnC Bio Korea, a biotech firm located just outside of Soul.
The EB5 Immigration Program, partially created by U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, will help fund AnC Bio Vermont. The EB-5 program is a permanent residence option for investors. It allows foreign nationals to obtain permanent residency status when they invest $1 million dollars (or $500,000 dollars in designated economically deprived areas) in a commercial enterprise that employs at least 10 U.S. workers full-time.
President of Jay Peak Resort, Bill Stenger, who has been a key player in bringing the firm to Newport, said during a meeting held at the Gateway Center in Newport Friday that permitting for the construction of a 50,000 addition to the former Bogner plant would be presented before the end of the year.
The project is the culmination of work done by Stenger and former Gov. Jim Douglas.
“A year from now, we expect to be in full construction of that facility,” said Stenger.
The property already has a 40,000 square foot building that company officials are willing to subdivide for other companies. The final phase of funding, raising $100 million, starts next week. The project also needs the approval of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Purchase of the Bogner plant and 25 acres was completed July 29, for $3 million.
The partnership between AnC Bio Vermont and AnC Bio Korea started 18 months ago when Stenger and then Gov. James Douglas traveled to Soul, Korea, where they met with Korean government leaders and officials from AnC Bio Korea. Stenger said that he and AnC Bio Korea officials knew Newport would be a strategic center for this initiative. He also pointed out that Newport is less than two hours away from four biotech research universities – Sherbrooke, McGill, the University of Vermont and Dartmouth College.
One of the areas in which the biotech company will be working is stem cell research. Working with stem cells to do things like curing heart disease, making vaccines that eliminate the need to use needles and making artificial organs began in the late 1990s.
“The AnC Bio facility to be constructed here in Newport will allow more Vermonters to stay close to home while making their contribution to this dynamic industry in jobs,” said Bill Kelly, partner and principal for AnC Bio. The company can take a small amount of skin graft that can be broken into millions of cells and eventually put into a person’s damaged heart. “They develop into new working heart muscle cells.”
Ariel Quiros, chairman of AnC Bio Vermont, said the company has the world’s best state of the art cell culturing facility and original technology of various kinds of artificial organs. The Vermont company will develop and manufacture millions of stem cells and therapy medicines for incurable diseases. The company will also co-develop and manufacture various kinds of artificial organs that include kidney, heart and liver. The company will "write new history," Quiros said.
“We hope Newport will become a world leader in the manufacturing of all these important devices,” said Kelly.
Gov. Peter Shumlin spoke very enthusiastically about using new research to extend human life. He said the company is doing innovative things for human life advancement and quality of life. Newport will be the center for biotech tech research, development and production, Shumlin said.
Encouraging foreign investment in Vermont, especially in Newport, creates short and long-term jobs, said U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy. He said people can build their homes and send their children to school. Leahy said he asked Stenger to testify in Washington about the EB5 program.
“People paid attention,” said Leahy, who is working on making the EB5 permanent. Leahy has watched companies send jobs overseas. “I’d like to start brining a few of those jobs to America. We know in Vermont we have the men and women who can perform those jobs.”