Plans to expand MedImmune’s Frederick manufacturing plant will move forward with financial support from Frederick County after the County Council approved an agreement with tax credits and other economic incentives for the biotechnology firm Tuesday night.
In a 6-1 vote, the Frederick County Council approved the county’s $3.8 million contribution to a $6.8 million conditional loan for MedImmune’s expansion and an agreement guaranteeing the AstraZeneca-owned firm certain tax credits and access to specific county resources over the next decade.
MedImmune announced plans for a $200 million expansion late last year. The project will bring 300 new jobs, adding $25 million to the company’s annual payroll, and it will add over 40,000 square feet to the company’s facilities in Frederick. It is predicted to be completed by the end of 2017.
Billy Shreve was the lone council member to vote against the conditional loan and agreement, saying that businesses should not trust the county government to keep its promises after breaching past agreements such as the one with the Citizens and Montevue assisting living centers.
“The agreement we made ... is not worth the paper it’s written on,” Shreve said.
Of the $6.8 million conditional loan, Frederick County will contribute a capped amount of $3.8 million and the city of Frederick will be responsible for the remaining $3 million. Officials determined the county and city’s contributions to the conditional loan based on current tax rates.
Additional tax revenue received through the project’s expansion will fund the loan, which is set to be paid over a 15-year period with an automatic five-year extension if the total has not been reached in that time frame.
To remain eligible for the conditional loan, MedImmune must meet performance requirements, which include conducting a minimum of $145 million of real estate construction at the project site and create 300 new jobs.
“I have no doubt they will far exceed the $145 million ... and far exceed the 300 jobs in the future,” said Helen Propheter, director of the county’s economic development office.
However, Propheter clarified that the loan is not one in the traditional sense.
“In banking, a loan is very much a loan,” she said. “In economic development, it means we have put forth to the business criteria they must meet.”
Councilman Tony Chmelik echoed Propheter’s sentiment, noting the importance of MedImmune’s action to forward-fund roughly $7 million for road improvements near Solarex Court and Md. 180.
“It’s important for folks to understand that Frederick County is not writing a check out here. ... They’ve already cut the checks to do these [road] improvements ... we are basically paying them back,” he said.
“They have a track record, they’ve been in county some time ... it seems to be a win-win for everybody here,” Chmelik added.
City of Frederick officials are scheduled to vote on the conditional loan Thursday evening at City Hall.