Research future | nnbusinessview.com

Research future

Laura Cianci

Charles River Laboratories is a leading example of an expanding business that is not only bringing high paying jobs to the area, but is also increasing the opportunities for workers who live or attend school here.

“About half our employees have a university education, and about 10 percent hold doctoral degrees,” said Greg Beattie, executive director of site operations. “The average pay for the new jobs we are adding is $23.90 an hour.”

Charles River Laboratories, Inc., based at Wilmington, Mass., provides pre-clinical testing of the safety and effectiveness of pharmaceuticals worldwide. Its Northern Nevada operations are part of the company’s preclinical services division which has revenues of about $500 million.

The company moved into Nevada in 1999 with its purchase of Sierra Biomedical, Inc., which was born in Sparks in 1992.

Then, Sierra Biomedical had a handful of employees occupying 12,000 square feet at 587 Dunn Circle. As the company grew it added workers and took over several buildings in Dunn Circle, which it now has outgrown.

This year, Charles River Laboratories purchased the old State Farm Insurance building at 6995 Longley Lane which has been vacant since 2004.

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It is investing more than $150 million for renovations and the addition of a second floor to the 293,000-square-foot building. The additional 175,000 square feet to the space will allow for continued expansion.

“Demolition work inside the building is largely finished and we are now in active construction. We expect to be begin operations by mid-2007,” Beattie said. “Once construction is complete, this laboratory will be one of the largest of its type in the world.”

As part of that expansion, the company expects to add at least 250 new employees next year and double that over the next couple of years.

“We employ approximately 330 people in Reno now and by the time this expansion is completed we expect to be at nearly 1,000,” Beattie said.

To ensure a steady stream of employees with appropriate skill sets, Charles River Laboratories works closely with Truckee Meadows Community College and the University of Nevada, Reno, according to Beattie.

Dale Holcombe, a professor in the veterinarian medicine department at UNR, is talking with company officials to develop a class that would introduce them to various areas of medical research and internship programs.

“Our students like working for that company and it’s good for those who want to stay in the area,” Holcombe said.

Among the reasons Charles River Labora-tories remains in Nevada is its success here.

“We have been very successful in Reno and this successful track record makes us confident in our decision to remain here. If we had not had such a successful track record we might easily have chosen to relocate to another western location,” Beattie said.

Another reason is the location.

“Reno offers our employees a great quality of life; it’s a great place to live and raise a family,” Beattie said.

Last week, Charles River Laboratories received the Annual Governor’s Appreciation “Distinguished Business of the Year” Award for its contribution to the regional economy.

The Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada estimates that the expansion and retention of the company is worth more than $89 million in regional economic impact.