ELLSWORTH, Maine — The Jackson Laboratory will hold a ribbon-cutting celebrating the opening of its more than $200 million mice-breeding facility next month.
The invitation-only Aug. 23 event at its new Kingsland Crossing building will honor the completion of Phase I of IV, said John Fitzpatrick, Jackson Lab’s senior director of facilities.
The project is expected to create as many as 350 jobs when finished in 2026. Jackson Lab is an independent, nonprofit biomedical research institution known worldwide for its research into human disease and for breeding scientifically engineered mice for biomedical research.
It employs about 1,800 people, including around 1,200 in Bar Harbor.
For Ellsworth and Hancock County, the lab is already a beacon of growth and opportunity, Ellsworth City Manager David Cole said.
“It goes way beyond just the jobs involved,” Cole said. “This is the gold standard in economic development. If you want a marquee business out there to invest in your community, having an internationally recognized biomedical research facility in your city is a great thing.”
The project, which has had some delays and grown from an estimated cost of $140 million, will gradually mature. Fifteen to 20 technicians and security staff, plus about 30 construction workers, are finishing final checks on Phase I of the project, which is expected to cost about $80 million, Fitzpatrick said.
Phase I was expected to be completed in April of this year, but construction and final handover of the building from its builders to laboratory officials took longer than expected, Fitzpatrick said.
The first mice are expected to enter the facility in October. Incremental hiring will follow, with 80 to 90 workers employed by the second quarter of 2019, Fitzpatrick said.
Phase II, the construction of another two mice production rooms, is expected to finish by April 2020. Construction of that $60 million component began in May and is expected to finish in the first quarter of 2020, he said.
Phases III and IV will follow, with about 250 people employed in the facility in 2023. If the economy and sale of research mice don’t change too dramatically, full occupancy — 300 to 350 people — will occur in 2026, Fitzpatrick said.
“We are having great success with mouse sales right now, but if the economy slows down, obviously we will be looking at a different situation,” Fitzpatrick said.
In the meantime, city officials continue to prepare for the lab’s effect on the community, and use it to draw more business to the area, Cole said.
“To say that we will be home to the Jackson Lab campus is a great point of pride,” Cole said, “and something that we will leverage.”
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