Grifols, Johnston County’s largest private employer, filed plans this month for 56,000 square feet of warehouse space on its Clayton campus.
The proposed facility could augment the company’s efforts in processing plasma, or the liquid portion of blood at the root of the Spanish drug maker’s research and therapies for rare medical conditions.
The company is increasing the number of North American plasma-donation centers, where donors give more than 10 million liters of plasma annually, said Grifols spokesman Punkaj Amin. The warehouse could provide future additional storage space, he said.
“It’s a feasibility filing, and we are doing feasibility for planning in the future,” Amin said, noting that regulatory approval for the company’s facilities can be a lengthy process.
The warehouse is separate from a larger $500 million investment in Clayton, including a plasma-fractionation facility and a logistics warehouse. The expansion follows the company’s 2011 purchase of Talecris, which formerly operated the plasma plant in Clayton and a Raleigh lab that Grifols shuttered in 2012.
Grifols employs about 1,600 people in Clayton and another 400 at its regional headquarters in Research Triangle Park and at plasma-collection centers across the state, Amin said.
On May 1, the company submitted a site plan for the warehouse to Clayton’s planning department. The department’s technical review committee will consider the plan this month and make recommendations to the Planning Board.
The town has already approved Grifols’ 182,000-square-foot fractionation facility, where workers will extract the proteins from plasma that are used to make products for blood therapies. That facility, which Amin said cost an estimated $420 million, should be operational by 2015.
Clayton leaders have also approved a 77,000-square-foot logistics warehouse, which will store plasma in temperature-controlled areas before it is shipped for testing or manufacturing. That building should also be operational by 2015, Amin said.
“They have finished one project and started the next,” said Clayton Planing Director David DeYoung, who has worked for the town since 2011, when Grifols bought Talecris for $3.4 billion.
The company’s Johnston County campus on U.S. 70 Business is not in Clayton’s corporate limits but is within the town’s planning jurisdiction. That’s why its building plans go before the town and not the county.
In recent years, county leaders have used Grifols and its neighbors, drug makers Novo Nordisk and Hospira, to brand Johnston as more than a bedroom community for Raleigh’s continued growth. At the same time, the county’s proximity to major universities and Research Triangle Park has produced a skilled workforce, about half of which travels across county lines to go to work, according to the latest U.S. Census data.
Chris Johnson, director of Johnston County’s economic-development office, said “the ideal situation is having a great workforce but then finding a way to have them stay in Johnston County.”
About 38,000 Johnston County residents travel to other North Carolina counties to go to work, according to Census data. The Journey to Work statistics show a little more than 35,000 county residents don’t leave Johnston County for their jobs.
Dunn: 919-553-7234, Ext. 104