DUNKIRK – An international company that develops cancer care drugs is reportedly looking at alternative locations for its multi-million dollar pharmaceutical plant.
In February Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other state officials were in Dunkirk to announce that Athenex would build a new plant in Dunkirk, providing a much-needed economic boost to the community by providing as many as 900 new jobs.
However, a report released Wednesday by the Buffalo news said that Athenex officials are growing frustrated with the delays involved in moving forward with development. Those delays are largely tied to state funding that was promised for the Dunkirk plant, in addition to an expansion project in Buffalo.
While Athenex has not said that it is abandoning the Dunkirk sight, it did say that it has already started to look at other alternative locations – one of which is in the U.K. – should the delays continue to the point that it adversely affects their operations.
Athenex has already spent $242,400 to purchase 33.6 acres of land in Dunkirk, although the state had initially said it would cover the cost of the property. The state will likely reimburse Athenex the money it used to buy the property, but the fact that the money was not made immediately available to the company is what has created concerns, in addition to other red tape that needs to be cleared before construction can begin.
The project was being overseen by SUNY Polytechnic Institute. However, following the news that Athenex may be considering other locations, the Governor’s office announced that Empire State Development – the state’s economic development agency – will take over oversight of the project.
State Senator Cathy Young (R-Olean) released a statement Wednesday night, saying it was good news that Empire State Development will now oversee the project.
“It is wonderful news that Empire State Development will take the helm to guide the Athenex project forward. Their mission everyday is to create jobs and achieve economic growth by working closely with companies. I have confidence the delays will be resolved and work will begin soon. I commend the Governor for finding a solution, and Empire State Development officials for giving their expertise. I also sincerely thank Athenex for their investment in Western New York. This project and the 900 new jobs it will bring are essential to our future. Everyone is working together to achieve progress and success,” Young said.
A total of $200 million in economic development incentives was promised to Athenex in order for it to commit to the Dunkirk location.
Athenex officials have reportedly said construction will take 18 to 24 months to be completed, after breaking ground on the Dunkirk plant.