Local officials say business deal could boost research and diversity panhandle economy
By Lynn Hatter
Tallahassee, FL – A pharmaceutical company is looking to open a plant in the city of Crestview in Okaloosa County. And as Lynn Hatter reports, Florida is looking to beat out other competitors for a shot at the 130 high wage jobs the proposed plant would create.
Pharmacy South Incorporated manufactures the popular asthma drug, Albuterol. It's considering Crestview as the site of a new facility. Area businessman and former Destin mayor Craig Barker of Cobalt Blue Consultants says the region drew the company's attention because of one main thing the proximity of Florida A & M University's Pharmacy School. He calls it the "ace-in-the hole."
"Our ace-in-the-hole is the FAMU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical sciences. That is the one catalyst that puts us ahead of all the other states in the running."
FAMU's College of Pharmacy is opening a satellite campus in Crestview from which the company can pull researchers and interns. But the benefits won't just go one way. FAMU College of Pharmacy Interim Dean Dr. Seth Ablordeppy says the company will provide a way to turn FAMU's drug research into real products for consumers.
"This opens the opportunity for them to partner with us so we can develop some of these compounds into drugs. They're interested in doing something like that, and we're looking for people who we can partner with in order to develop these drugs. So it's a win-win situation for them and for us."
Right now the state's economic development arm Enterprise Florida, is working on an incentive package that could provide things like tax breaks, rebates or even land to build on. Florida's main competitor for the company is Alabama, which is putting together a proposal of its own. Pharmacy South could make a decision on whether to make Florida its newest home in about 30 days.