February 24, 2018
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Jackson Lab complex in Ellsworth inching toward completion

Gabor Degre | BDN
Gabor Degre | BDN
The Jackson Laboratory’s Ellsworth facility, seen here at its 2016 groundbreaking, might begin breeding mice by September.
By Nick Sambides Jr., BDN Staff
Updated:

The Jackson Laboratory has received a $12.5 million grant to fund a $200 million facility in Ellsworth that will begin breeding mice for biomedical research by September.

The lab’s chief operating officer, Chuck Hewett, announced the Maine Technology Institute grant on Monday. He described it as a step toward the completion of Phase II of the facility.

The Ellsworth facility is significant to eastern Maine because it is expected to bring 350 jobs to Ellsworth and 120 to Bar Harbor during the next 10 years with Jackson Lab, a nonprofit institution known globally for its scientifically engineered mice.

The project’s $60 million first phase is expected to end by September with the completion of primary construction and introduction of mice into the facility. The 18-month design and construction of the $80 million second phase begins with the receipt of the state’s grant, Hewett said. Phase III will likely cost $50 million.

Laboratory leaders “made Phase II conditional on getting significant funding from the state,” Hewett said Monday. “To them, this is a public private partnership that gives them confidence that the city and state want Jax here.”

JAX committed $75 million to Phase I of the three-phase project, and will match the $12.5 million grant with an additional $47.5 million. Phase II of the project outfits the second of four sections of the facility.

“There is a lot of risk in what we do and this just helps take a bit of that risk away and makes everybody a little bit more comfortable,” Hewett said.

Primary construction of Phase I is set to end in April, with equipment installation and facility sterilization to follow before the mice move in by October, Hewitt said.

About 100 people should be working full time at the Ellsworth lab by mid-summer, Hewett said. Well over 100 do construction at the facility now, Hewett said.

Jackson Lab spends about $250,000 a day in Ellsworth with the facility, which will complement its Bar Harbor headquarters, which employs 1,200, Hewett said.

Jackson Lab bought the 17-acre facility, a former Lowe’s Home Improvement store near Route 3, for $3.2 million in 2012. It originally hoped to finish the 200,000-square-foot lab for about $120 million last month.

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