North Carolina Airline Company Relocates to Greater Philadelphia

Eastern Air Lines is moving its headquarters from North Carolina to an approximately 18,000 square-foot space in Wayne, Pennsylvania.

Earlier this year, Steve Harfst, the current President and CEO of Eastern Air Lines, said the relocation to Greater Philadelphia would better serve its future needs and business plans.

The company currently has five planes, but plans to double that to a total of eight passenger flights and two cargo planes.

In 2018, the airline company changed its name from Dynamic International Airlines while rebranding under a new owner, Kenneth Woolley, the founder of Extra Space Storage Inc.

Earlier this year, Frontier Airlines provided flights to five new destinations originating from Philadelphia International Airport (PHL). The Greater Philadelphia business community continues to grow as more travel options emerge and companies relocate to our region.

Edit: Name corrected to Eastern Air Lines

FDA Approves New Research and Training Facility in DE

A Delaware biopharmaceutical manufacturer, the National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals (NIIMBL), is partnering with the FDA to regulate their new biopharmaceutical manufacturing training and research facility.

The agreement, referred to as a Creative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA), will provide the legal framework for the biopharmaceutical network and allow for industry-wide collaboration at NIIMBL’s new headquarters in Newark, Delaware.

“The NIIMBL space will be a neutral 3rd party space, if you will, where various members of our ecosystem can come together and work collaboratively on these projects to advance the technologies, to advance workforce training activities,” said Kelvin Lee, the NIIMBL Institute Director and University of Delaware Gore Professor of Chemical Engineering.

The facility will open at the University of Delaware’s STAR campus in the next year with the Delaware Biotechnology Institute and the University of Delaware’s biomedical engineering program.

There are approximately 60 NIIMBL biopharmaceutical manufacturing projects currently that are focusing on sterilizing medication and advancing technologies for manufacturing cell therapies and gene therapies.

DuPont recently opened a global industrial biotech headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware. The space was strategically created as one collaborative place for scientists, customers, and businesspeople to stimulate innovation and communication throughout our region’s life sciences community.

Delaware Welcomes Fifth Cannabis Dispensary

A fifth marijuana dispensary is opening in Wilmington, Delaware called Columbia Care. This will be Columbia Care’s second Delaware location, the first location is in Smyrna, DE, a town located in Kent and New Castle counties.

In Delaware, 5,000 residents are certified to purchase medical marijuana by their doctors. Medical marijuana can be used to treat many medical conditions, including chronic pain. Columbia Care employees also take into consideration patients’ needs before referring them to their cannabis-based medicines.

The New York-based medical cannabis company has an agricultural production facility in Milford, DE, where it produces its products in a controlled-environment for their Delaware market.

Medical marijuana has more commonly become a treatment for pain management. On a recent Growing Greater podcast episode, a medical practice headquartered in southern New Jersey called Relievus joined us to share their focus on the art of pain management through the use of progressive treatments, including medical marijuana.

Burlington County Amazon Warehouse Hiring Hundreds

Amazon announced it is actively looking to fill 600 full-time positions in the 1 million square foot Burlington County, New Jersey fulfillment center.  The new center will store electronics, pet food, and furniture, among many other household products.

The position starts at $15 an hour and provides full benefits, including 20 weeks of maternal and paternal paid leave. Employees will be responsible for retrieving orders and packaging and shipping the products to an Amazon customer located in our region.

This fulfillment center currently has 2,000 employees and is expected to be fully operational by November.

It was only last summer that Amazon shared plans to build this Burlington County facility and create 600 new jobs. The company now has well over 16,000 full-time employees in the state of New Jersey.

CNBC’s Top States for Doing Business: How the Tri-State Region Measures Up

CNBC recently released its annual America’s Top States for Business rankings, grading all 50 states on more than 60 measures of competitiveness in 10 broad categories: Workforce, Economy, Infrastructure, Cost of Doing Business, Quality of life, Education, Technology and Innovation, Business Friendliness, Access to Capital, and Cost of Living. Each category is weighted according to the frequency of use for each characteristic in economic development marketing materials. Below we highlight the findings in the 2019 CNBC ranking for Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. Note that these rankings are for the entire state, so the outcomes may not match expectations, reality, or perceptions for our regional neighborhood of northern Delaware, southern New Jersey, and southeastern Pennsylvania. 

Pennsylvania

Easy access to capital can put your business on the map, but unstable state finances restrain growth.” (CNBC, America’s Top States for Business in 2019)

Overall, Pennsylvania ranks 28th in the nation, down from 22nd in 2018. Most of the fall is attributed to a downgrade in PA’s Workforce, and Technology & Innovation rankings. Pennsylvania currently ranks in the nation’s bottom 25 in six out of 10 categories (see table), but also has some serious strengths in Access to Capital, Education, Technology & Innovation, and Infrastructure. Strong venture capital funding and bank financing for small and mid-sized businesses support PA’s 6th place ranking in the Access to Capital category. On the education front, Pennsylvania is home to six of the top 25 school districts in the nation, according to Niche.com.

New Jersey

Glory Days abound for the state’s strong school system — not so much for its crumbling infrastructure.” (CNBC, America’s Top States for Business in 2019)

Overall, New Jersey ranks 36th in the nation, maintaining its rank from 2018. Gains made across various categories were partially offset by losses in the Economy. Compared to its fellow states, New Jersey ranks particularly low in the Economy, Cost of Doing Business, Business friendliness, Cost of Living, and Infrastructure, however the Garden State ranks as one of the best for Education, and is competitive when it comes to its Access to Capital, Workforce, Quality of Life, and Technology & Innovation.

Delaware

The first state to ratify the Constitution cannot match that No. 1 distinction in most measures of competitiveness.” (CNBC, America’s Top States for Business in 2019)

Overall, Delaware ranks 38th in the nation, maintaining its rank from 2018. Gains made in rankings for Quality of Life and Infrastructure were offset by losses in Workforce and Education. To the latter point, Delaware stands out from Pennsylvania and New Jersey in that it is the only one to not receive a D+ on its economy ranking (see table). The First State struggles in other categories when compared to its peers, specifically in the Access to Capital and Cost of Living categories.

Written by James Medaglio, Research Analyst, Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia

Real Estate Boom in the Wake of Life Sciences Growth

Developers in Greater Philadelphia are experiencing a demand for office and lab space as life sciences companies move to the region.

Just two years ago, the FDA approved the first-ever gene therapy by Spark Therapeutics and the first-ever cell therapy by Novartis here in Greater Philadelphia. Since then, the region’s status as a biotech hub has seen tremendous growth.

This year, millions of square feet in the region have been planned out as potential office and lab space. Republic Properties Corp., a real estate firm from D.C., is developing an eight-story building to attract gene and cell therapy companies. In King of Prussia, The Discovery Labs has begun renovating approximately one million square feet of office space into their life sciences coworking campus. The California-based Iovance Biotherapeutic is expanding to the Philadelphia Navy Yard to build a 136,000 square feet office, lab, and production facility. Additionally, the Wistar Institute will become the partner and anchor tenant of University Place 3.0, a commercial space in University City developed by University Place Association.

The founder and CEO of University Place Association, Scott Mazo said, “As a developer and someone who lives in Philadelphia, life science right now seems like the opportunity that has been missed several times in the past. We’re getting calls from names all around the country, and we’re being considered as the top place in the country in terms of cancer and gene therapy research.”

Years prior, Boston was notoriously known as the global hub for life sciences, but recently Greater Philadelphia has become a life sciences hotspot with more space and talent. Jeff Marrazzo of Spark Therapeutics referred to Greater Philadelphia as “a hotbed for gene and cell therapy innovation” while thousands of biotech professionals and prospecting companies traveled to Philadelphia for the BIO 2019 International Convention.

Prelude Therapeutics Advances Cancer Research to Clinical Stage

Prelude Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company located near Wilmington, Delaware, secured funding to establish and advance its drug discovery programs. In total, the company received $60 million in second stage of startup funding, otherwise known as series B financing.

Three years prior, Prelude developed its first discovery program that targets Protein Arginine Methyltransferase 5 (PRMT5) to attack cancer cells. Now with $95 million in total investments, the biopharmaceutical company will advance its PRMT5 inhibitor, known as PRT543.

“We believe PRMT5 inhibitors represent a promising new class of drugs to treat cancers, including ones that have developed resistance to existing targeted therapies. We are also pleased to have assembled such a talented, experienced, and proven leadership team to address some of the most pressing gaps in cancer treatment,” said Kris Vaddi, founder and CEO of Prelude Therapeutics, in a press release.

Prelude operates in the Delaware Innovation Space at the DuPont Experimental Station and is led by another Wilmington-based biotech company, Incyte Corp.

Last month, the CEO of Incyte, Hervé Hoppenot, spoke at the Greater Philadelphia Life Science and Innovation Showcase to address biotechnology leaders who were in Philadelphia for the BIO 2019 International Convention. Hoppenot shared why Incyte relocated to Greater Philadelphia and the positive impact it had on the company in an effort to market the region as a life science hub.

Virtua Strengthens New Jersey Health Care System

Virtua Health acquired Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in Camden and Lourdes Medical Center of Burlington County in an effort to consolidate and strengthen the health care system in New Jersey.

The Lourdes Medical Center of Burlington County will now be known as the Virtua Willingboro Hospital and Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in Camden will be referred to as Virtua Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital.

The entire Virtua Health system now employs 13,000 people in its 280 practices and outpatient care facilities.

“Now we can begin the process of building a better, healthier future for the people of South Jersey,” said Dennis W. Pullin, President and CEO of Virtua. “The best interest of the community has been the driving force behind this process and it will be our cornerstone moving forward.”

Virtua Health has acquired multiple hospitals recently due to the Affordable Care Act’s focus on shorter hospital stays. The merger provides negotiation power for smaller hospitals seeking funding from insurance companies for improvements.

Last November, Virtua was recognized as the Most Wired health organization due to their leadership in the use of information technology (IT) to improve health care. Virtua continuously focuses on patient satisfaction and bringing high-quality, affordable health care to Greater Philadelphia residents.

Boston Biopharmaceutical Company Expands Philadelphia Office

Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, the Boston-area biopharmaceutical company specializing in RNA interference therapeutics, a natural cellular process of gene silencing, plans to hire an additional 11 employees. Alnylam currently has a team of four employees working from their Philadelphia office in University City.

The CEO of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, John Maraganore, anticipates that overtime Philadelphia will become “another core center for Alnylam” due to the large presence of major biopharmaceutical companies in the region, such as Merck and Johnson & Johnson.

Our regions life science talent has had a major influence on this decision, according to Maraganore. “There’s a lot of competition for talent up here and there is lot of [life sciences industry] talent in the tri-state area there around Philadelphia. We felt we could find a way to harness some of that talent by setting up a site there.”

Alnylam is in the process of developing a new drug to treat a series of rare genetic diseases that attack the nervous system called acute hepatic porphyria. The biopharmaceutical firm is also in the process of developing 10 other treatments for a variety of genetic diseases.

Another Boston-based company expanded to Philadelphia in 2017 called the Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC). The innovation center occupies 127,000 square feet in uCitySquare for entrepreneurs to improve and accelerate their business throughout Greater Philadelphia.

Rowan University Follows National Trend to Lower Tuition

Rowan College at Gloucester County and Cumberland County College merged to become the Rowan College of South Jersey. Ten thousand students are expected to enroll at the regional community college this fall.

The rise in higher education tuition was a major motive for this union. The Rowan College of South Jersey will offer $152 per credit hour for students living in Gloucester and Cumberland Counties, and 120 degree and certificate programs.

“Higher education is kind of pricing people out these days. We are going to offer high-quality education that’s affordable,” said Josh Piddington, a vice president at Rowan College of South Jersey.

Students will also have access to Rowan University’s resources, including a medical school, nursing program, and the “3+1 program,” which will provide Rowan College of South Jersey  “credentials and credibility,” according to the New Jersey State Senate President Stephen Sweeney.

Rowan University added its “3+1 program” in an effort to lower student debt. Students in the “3+1 program” can attend Rowan’s community college for three years and complete their final year at Rowan University. This program typically costs students $30,000 in total and has already reduced student debt by $3.3 million.