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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Jubilant HollisterStier growth pushes to lead Spokane

Christopher Pierce, director of business development, gives a tour of Jubilant HollisterStier on Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021, at the facility at 3525 N. Regal St. in Spokane.  (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)

Enough shots for every American.

That could be the result of the ongoing expansion at Jubilant HollisterStier, according to CEO and president Chris Preti who spoke Wednesday to other manufacturers at the East West Life Science Summit at Washington State University’s Spokane campus.

“When we’re done with this expansion, we will be the No. 1 manufacturer in Spokane,” Preti said.

Jubilant specializes in producing injectable products for pharmaceutical and biotech companies. At one point in time, it was the only firm making coronavirus vaccines in Washington.

In February, the firm announced the completion of the first phase of an expansion project to add a third production line in their facility at 3525 N. Regal St.

The second and final phase is to add a fourth line. When complete, the firm will be well suited to supply Americans with vaccines – every American, that is.

“In the future, we will be able to make over 60 million vials in a year which translates to 300 million patient doses,” he said. “Think about that.

“When we are done with the expansion, we will have the possibility, should the need arise, to dose almost every single patient in the U.S. with a product that’s manufactured right here in Spokane.”

The expansion project was partially financed with about $150 million in American Rescue Plan funding under an agreement with the U.S. Department of Defense and the Department of Health and Human Services.

The project, to be completed by 2025, will add 160,000 square feet to the building bringing its total footprint to around 480,000 square feet.

It will add 400 jobs, bringing its workforce to a total of 1,200 – the largest of any manufacturer in the area, according to Preti.

He hopes the move will lead to even bigger things for the region.

“The big vision is to create an economic hub like you see in Seattle, San Francisco or San Diego,” he said. “And we’re making some good steps.”

Perhaps the largest hurdle the local industry must overcome to rival larger markets is a workforce shortage, he said.

To combat the issue, Preti and other manufacturers in the area are partnering with K-12 educators, trade and higher education institutions.

“Around 65% of our folks just need a GED high school education,” he said. “We could bring them on and spend six to eight months training them up, and then they could be actually operating multimillion dollar pieces of equipment – what a great opportunity for somebody right when they finished their GED.”

Through collaboration with community partners, this process could be streamlined, Preti said.

“We could create a way where these hundreds of people could go through a certification program, and they could come to Jubilant HollisterStier and say, ‘Hey, I’m certified to be a biomanufacturing operator,’ ” he said. “That would accelerate that six- to eight-month, in-house training program down to almost zero.”