A few years ago, Jubilant HollisterStier was the only Washington company producing COVID-19 vaccines.
This past week, the company announced progress to several substantial expansions to their Spokane facility that will dwarf its current capacity when completed.
About three dozen politicians and industry professionals attended an event at the HollisterStier building Thursday in east Spokane to attend two announcements: One expansion project is complete and another one is commencing.
When both are completed, the plant’s total footprint will be more than 423,580 square feet.
The projects are estimated to cost a total of $285 million.
The first expansion began in November 2021 to add a third production line. Jubilant manufactures numerous things but specializes in producing injectable products for large pharmaceutical and biotech companies.
Currently, the existing 230,000-square-foot plant can produce 110 million vials per year via two fill lines. The additional line is expected to increase the company’s capacity by 50%, according to previous reports.
Line 3, as it is being called by company leaders, increases production of the Spokane facility by around 55 million units per year or 400 vials per minute.
The state-of-the-art, high-speed-injectable-liquid filling line is also fitted with two, 300-square-foot machines, called lyophilizers, that freeze dry products to increase their shelf life.
This production line alone will employ some 400 workers, the company said.
Company officials hosted the gathering Thursday in Line 3 where each attendee was required to be escorted to by security personnel.
Addressing the audience, Chris Preti, CEO and president of the Spokane firm, said its goal is simple.
“We ask ourselves how we can be able to deliver 60 million doses in three or four months if we need to should another situation like the recent pandemic happens again,” he said.
The firm is a subsidiary of Jubilant Pharmova, an Indian company with headquarters in Uttar Pradesh, a state in northern India.
At the event, Prakash Gupta gave remarks. Gupta is the consulate-general of India in Seattle. The organization officially opened in December of last year.
Preti described Gupta’s role in future success of Jubilant.
“Consulate-General Gupta serves as a key link between U.S. and Indian business communities in this region,” he said. “He is the chief regional chair and the leader for arguably the most consequential bilateral relationship in the 21st century.”
Gupta offered greetings to Spokane from him and the 1.4 billion people of India, which drew laughs.
“I know that Indian companies in the United States have played a pivotal role in shaping the character and strength that binds the India/U.S. partnership,” he said. “There are various elements of that relationship. Defense is one, advanced technology is one and I believe critical health supply chains are another.”
During the pandemic, the U.S. and India worked together to produce COVID vaccines, he said. The collaboration taught leaders of each country the importance of their relationship to form stronger supply chains.
“When it comes to vaccines across the world, our countries work together using Indian vaccines along with U.S. expertise to promptly deliver to several landscapes in the Pacific, Indio-Pacific and many other countries,” he said. “This facility will address the element of giving self reliance to our supply chains.”
The two expansion projects are partially financed with $149.6 million in American Rescue Plan funding under an agreement with the U.S. Department of Defense and the Department of Health and Human Services to increase vaccine manufacturing capacity by 2025, according to a company release.
While the event last week acted as a ribbon cutting ceremony for Line 3, it doubled as a groundbreaking for Line 4.
This expansion will add 160,000-square-feet to the operation.
Though the effort will add another production line and mirror the high-speed-injectable-liquid filling capabilities of Line 3, it will also add maintenance and warehouse space, laboratories and a large employee services area, according to a company publication.
Company officials anticipate the fourth production line to be fully operational in 2026.